John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This concept building is being billed as a vertical farm. We'll be the judge of that.
I have stared at this concept drawing for a London building for five minutes now, and I am still alternately amazed, confused and a bit scared of it.
The tower's creator, the Hong Kong and Beijing-based FABLAB Design, is billing it as a vertical farm. But as my colleague Henry Grabar points out, it looks more like somebody used a cheat code in SimCity 2000 to build the biggest, whackiest arcology ever. To me, it's more like a race of mutated, Godzilla-sized dragonflies decided to have sex on a hyperspace Slinky. But who am I to judge? This heaping pile of visionary architecture recently won a trophy in the A' Design Award and Competition, an annual feting of ideas that's centered in Como, Italy.
In the future-farm's competition description, the designer writes that he was inspired by "Locust Wings Structure, Japanese Transformer Robots, Articles on why farming is dying but a rebirth is necessary, Aeronautical Engineering, Next Generation Sustainable Energy Methods." I can furthermore tell you that the structure includes this head-spinning array of features (taken verbatim):
• Solar Helium Balloons
• Laterally Mounted Wind Turbine
• Plant Covered External Cladding System that absorbs surrounding CO2 admission of London
• seed research laboratories within its Monocoque structure
• transparent wing canopies... made of E.T.F.E (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) skins with photovoltaic cells embedded within the material
• the tallest organic restaurant, sky lounge, conference hall and theater in the world
• storage cocoons gathering crops from farmland above... The cocoons are actually robots that utilize V.T.O.L (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) propulsion rotary engine....
• All the windows in the apartments quarters uses chromatic one way mirror acrylic glass (similar to that found in high performance sunglasses such as Oakley Jawbone series) to create solar shading and privacy system devoid the use of curtains or shading lovres.
What, no airport??!
Illustrations courtesy of FABLAB Design.