SUSTAINABLE CITIES: A PRIORITY FOR OUR FUTURE

 

By 2030 almost 60% of the world's population will live in urban areas. This prediction may be enough to realize the weight of the paradigm shift that will take place. Today, half of the human population, 3.5 billion people, lives in cities. In the West, the rural culture waned in the end of the second millennium. Now, streets, neighborhoods and skyscrapers are the 'natural and artificial" habitat of a globalized and technologically civilization, whose degree of automation is going to grow even more. The cities, that occupy only 3% of the Earth's surface, are responsible for 60-80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. Furthermore, it is estimated that, in  the next decades, 95% of urban expansion will take place in the so-called developing countries, which are not a model of sustainability. That’s one of the reason why the development of sustainable cities and communities is a priority in UN Agenda 2030. Today, more than ever, there are a lot of new challenges to keep the urban centers and the metropolises as workplaces without making further damages to the environment. 

THE CHALLENGE

The aim was the creation of a system that allow us to provide vegetables using rainwater in a urban context, where healty food is going to be even more difficut to find. The products lead to an interaction between the tenants, not a merely optimization of energy, to bring back us to the habits of cultivation. 

Types of vegetables

chili pepper - coriander - sage - stevia - asparagus - chive - rosemary - lettuce - mint - oregano - basil - cherry tomato

TOGETHER IS BETTER 

A sole product can satisfy the vegetables demand of almost two-three families. Actually, Greenery is supposed to be used in a significant number to create a kind of network and a concrete cooperation between the tenants. A specific app is supposed to be used to fill the gap of unknowledge about cultivation and to manage all the parameters of the vegetables.

HOW

The product uses the technique of hydroponic culture to grow vegetables at kilometer zero. The water is collected in the roof and it is canalized to the floor.  After a filtering process and the addition of the nutrients in the lower base, the pipes allow the water to get to the vases. The shape is circular because I want to create an interaction and a cooperation between the users and, in my opinion, this is the configuration that supports it more than others. The pipes are formed by different parts in order to allow a modular configuration. Sustainability is a priority of this project so I gave a significant importance also to the production processes which are one of the phases of the product’s life cycles that influence mostly the impact tht impact to the environment and the emission of energy. For this reason, I designed shapes that adapt well to the large-scale processes with a saving of material and energy. Obviously the definitve choices depend on the production volume, but in the pictures below some of the main processes that are easily predictable.

VASES

Injection moulding, finishing

BASES

Hot chamber diecasting, separation, finishing

PIPES

Extrusion, drawing, tungsten inert gas welding (TIG), finishing

LIGHTS AND TECHNICAL COMPONENTS

"Buy"

WHAT ABOUT THE FAR FUTURE?

Due to an increasing population, there will be more people living in limited space of the urban areas. Using the air as a space for the products is a way to grow our own food with such minimalist space. A floating farm is very adaptable to this evolution of the house’s space. Every object is a little garden where the vegetables are cultivated in a layer of agar. A jelly substance, obtained from algae that act as a growing medium. It allows the microgarden to remain self-contained, which means that the plants don't need to be watered because the roots absorb moisture from the gel. 

BACKGROUND

WHAT DO WE EXPECT?

Many cities have areas where healthy food is hard to find close to home. These same areas rarely produce healthy food. They are called food deserts, which are also businesss desert and job desert.

THE MARKET

The world of architecture is going to insert plants into buildings increasingly. Nature is brought into urban spaces to have significant advantages in terms of energy saving insulation, water management and combatting pollution or to establish nature as an integral part of living spaces. The "vertical forest" designed by the architect Stefano Boeri or the  French Declaretion that obligate to build all new rooftops with plants or solar panels are some examples of what was said. Another interesting case is the prototypical pavilion in Bologna designed by Carlo Ratti Associati, where people can engage with digitally-augmented farming and grow their own on-site food. During these years, design is proposing some projects that are moving in this direction, but generally they don't have an effective impact on the market. The "Growroomn", the  project designed by the architects Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husumis, is an exception. It is a walk-in spherical structure with a bench inside so you can recharge among plants. Unlike the original structure that debuted in Copenhagen, the open-source version is made entirely of plywood, making it easier for people to build on their own.

THE STRATEGY

It’s time to grow healthy food in the city and create new business opportunities that strengthen local communities.

BRIEF

Design a product that uses the local resources for gardening of people that lives in apartment buildings. Each part will be composed by units that support a knowledge sharing of agriculture and a way of producing healthy food at Kilometre Zero.

Concept development
Tumblr on the project
The blog shows the most relevant points of the research phase.

Chiara Selmi
Industrial Designer

I’m an Italian design student. I got a bachelor degree in Product Design at “Politecnico di Milano” and I am studying for a master in Product Design for Innovation at the same university. Currently, I’m an exchange student at “The Oslo School of Architecture and Design”. I like working with everything which is related to the industrial design, starting from the more theoretical topics to the practical issues of an industry.