Designing against the horizon
Designing against the horizon
The VertiFarm International Trade Fair in Dortmund, Germany, from September 27 to 29, 2023, turned the spotlight toward the future of urban living with a thematic exhibition featuring the projects of the Green Tower Hong Kong architectural competition. This exceptional presentation, which ran alongside a broader event, offered a unique glimpse into the innovative potential
Hong Kong is one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the world. Some view it as a skyscraper heaven full of lavish lifestyle, whereas some notice obstacles related to living in such high density. And while the city is still viewed as one of the wealthiest in the world, it faces a number of challenges.
Hong Kong’s most pressing issues are overpopulation, housing crisis, air and water pollution, and a lack of sufficient food and energy supply, especially due to the fact that its economy was severely damaged by the pandemic.
Geographically, Hong Kong consists largely of steep hillsides. Since traditional farming requires a large amount of land the local production is only able to complement the imported foods to meet the consumption needs. And because import intensifies the existing issues (cost of living and pollution) there is a growing demand for innovative and sustainable solutions that can help the city meet the needs of its residents.
The concept of vertical farming appeared at the beginning of the 20th century, but its modern version came to being only in 1999 when a parasitologist challenged his medical ecology students at Columbia University to feed 50,000 residents using just rooftop gardening. With approximately 52.6k square meters of usable space, the students were able to provide a 2000 kcal diet to only 2 percent of the assigned population and hence the professor proposed an indoor and vertical solution.
Ever since then, the idea grew in popularity and vertical farming, in its current state, can provide access to fresh, safe, and sufficient food, and allow the cohabitation between humans and plants regardless of climate and location. A great example of that being the world’s largest vertical farm in Dubai that is set to produce even 1k tonnes of leafy greens each year.
This architecture competition is exclusively for architecture students and young architects, and seeks to design a pioneering, self-sufficient residential skyscraper that utilizes the idea of vertical farming and addresses the challenges that Hong Kong faces nowadays. The designed building should provide a unique and cutting-edge living experience for its residents, fulfilling all the needs of modern societies and include innovative solutions to the challenges of urban agriculture and sustainable living. It should be a visually striking and memorable building, with a strong connection to the surrounding city and a sense of place.
We would like to encourage all participants to search for universal ideas that could be also implemented in other cities. Look for concepts that can be beneficial in many different locations and rethink how contemporary high-rise buildings are supposed to look, work and influence modern cities and their inhabitants.