New concept for urban eco-living – the farmscraper

High-rise city-dwelling cows and sheep and urban apple orchards could be placed on top of tower blocks as architects consider setting up “vertical farms”.

When Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut put forward the concept for a twin-tower development in New York, called Dragonfly, in 2009, he was laughed at.

But with growing concerns over food shortages, overpopulation and climate change, Callebaut’s ideas have gained renewed interest

His design has been exhibited at an international fair in China for a farm which would produce meat, dairy products and eggs and would feature orchards, meadows and rice fields.

“They made fun of me,” Callebaut said of his original detractors. “They said I created a piece of science fiction.”

Apart from having cows and orchards, the Dragonfly “farmscraper” concept for Shenzhen, China would harvest energy from the sun and wind. Hot air trapped between the building “wings” would provide heating in winter.

In summer, cooling would be achieved through natural ventilation and transpiration from the plant growth.

Plants would grow on the exterior shell of the development to filter rain water, which would be captured and mixed with liquid waste from the towers, treated organically and used as fertiliser.

And at the base would be a floating market on the river for the inhabitants to sell their organic produce.

“We need to invent new ways of living in the future,” said Callebaut.

Australian government architect Chris Johnson thinks the idea would work..

“Buildings shouldn’t be separate from nature,” said Johnson, the chief executive of the Urban Taskforce and author of a book entitled “Greening Cities”..

“A lot of buildings in Sydney and Melbourne have expansive rooftop gardens, the next step is to make them usable.”