Vertical Urban Farm in San Diego by Brandon Martella
It will produce a projected 266,796 kilograms of food every three months
By Brandon Martella
March 16, 2013
In response to an exponential growth in population and current trends in unsustainable food consumption, San Diego architect Brandon Martella has proposed a new high-rise building typology that integrates an expansive farm and market into the American urban landscape. The vertical farm skyscraper is an architecture that responds to a burgeoning economic and environmental issue — a problem of fruit and vegetable supply not meeting the 320+ kilogram per person demand in the United States.
Since the bulk of produce for San Diego comes from both the imperial and central California valleys, the issue of food sustainability and acquisition is one of increasing importance in the region. Half residential tower, half 23 acre farm, the project aims to become both an economic powerhouse and spectacle in addition to producing a projected 266,796 kilograms of food every three months.
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The 152 meter tall expanse of crops would be protected by glazing and use recycled grey water from the building to create a viable aquaponics network. Additionally, harnessed black water would become part of a compact combustion system for thermal energy.
The urban farm-to-market model not only provides locals with homegrown food, but the structure’s proximity to the waterfront and convention center also make for the site to become a tourist and educational destination. The social exchange of farmer and resident is also central to the project, made manifest in the ground floor commercial space as well as a tenth storey void that pushes residential circulation areas into the center of the farm.
While meeting areas are alternately double height or more intimate, apartments are interlocking 92 and 55 square meter units, spatially informed by Le Corbusier’s Marseille block. The building is one that posits an encompassing solution to myriad behaviors by creating a consciousness in consumers of space, commerce and culture.