Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on September 26, 2007
We all know the importance of vertical urban agriculture, but here’s one of the coolest designs I’ve seen yet. Whether or not it holds the key to the future is another matter.
Seattle-based Mithūn Architects recently won the best of show prize at the Cascadia Region Green Building Council’s Living Building Challenge for their slick and conceptually functional high-rise urban farm. The competition challenges architects, engineers and designers to rethink and enhance the current trends in sustainable architecture and create buildings that can survive, like a living organism, by utilizing the environment.
Located in downtown Seattle, Mithūn’s winning Center for Urban Agriculture is a “fully self-sufficient” structure (fine print: in terms of its energy and water) that integrates farming and housing into the same appealingly livable design. Requiring a whopping .72 (point seventy-two) acres of land, the site features 318 apartments (including studios, one-bedrooms and twos), rooftop rainwater collection, solar PV cells (with hydrogen backup), fields for growing food, a chicken farm and a restaurant that uses site-grown food.
Like most design contest winners, the Center for Urban Agriculture looks fantastic. If a building can be sexy, this one definitely arouses.
But questions also arise. In order to be completely self-sufficient gardening-wise, wouldn’t the building’s tenants would have to do their own planting and harvesting? Because if they hired gardeners who came to work via fossil fueled transportation, public or otherwise, that would certainly lose points for the building. Would gardening shifts be part of their HOA responsibilities? And with 318 units, exactly how much would need to be grown to supply the inhabitants and the restaurant with sufficient food?
Regardless of whether or not this design is the answer to the planet’s various crises, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. And as I said before, it sure looks cool.