Something Fishy: Ocean-Based Vertical Farm Concept

There is no shortage of vertical farm ideas these days; it’s becoming more apparent with each passing year that crop space is running out and we’ll soon need to figure out a better way to feed ourselves. Many vertical farm ideas look similar and share the same functions, but this one is a bit different: it’s situated in the ocean instead of on land.

Could a sea-based vertical farm have an advantage over a land-based one? It’s very possible. This particular design is from Australian architect Ruwan Fernando and was one of the entries in the eVolo 2010 Skyscraper Competition. Fernando’s design consists of five stacked U-shaped enclosures which can be used for a variety of functions: public space, residences, research, food production, energy production and more. The shape of the levels – and the space between each – helps to let in the maximum amount of natural sunlight, reducing the electricity needed to power the structure. Fernando sees several of his sea-based skyscrapers being grouped together to form a networked food production colony.

What makes Fernando’s idea truly unique is the fact that it’s meant to be placed in shallow ocean water. It would be close enough to the shore that a bridge would take workers and visitors from the mainland to the farm easily. But why put it in the water at all? The designer believes that instead of moving inward and taking up more green space – as has been the trend for a very long time – we should be focusing our movement outward, toward the “uninhabitable” 70 percent of the planet that is covered in water.

Being located in the water will make it easier for these vertical farms to harvest energy from wind and waves. Because there are no other structures in the water to block the sun, solar energy would also be plentiful. The surrounding seawater would be utilized both for fresh water (after desalination) and to provide minerals to nourish the plants. Of course, current technology is miles away from making a vertical farm like this a possibility, but looking to the ocean as a viable farm site is a step forward in vertical farm design.

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