Singapore is the third most densely populated country in the world, with 7,669 people per square kilometre, which means they don’t have a lot of space lying around on which to grow food. Because of this, they import 90 percent of their food from elsewhere around the globe, sometimes from places as far away as Argentina and Uruguay. But there might still be a way for Singapore to grow its own crops in the future.
According to Adele Peters at FastCompany, architects from a Barcelona-based design firm called JAPA have designed a system of looping towers that would float in Singapore's harbours and grow crops throughout the year. Called FRA, which is short for 'floating responsive architecture’, the design was based on the floating fish farms that have been used by Singapore locals since the 1930s.
The odd shape of the vertical farms, which look like skinny “Ls” that face opposite directions and meet in the middle, was designed to capture the maximum amount of sunlight for the plants while saving space. "We used the Sun as a design driver," Javier Ponce, principal from JAPA, told Peters. "The loop shape enables the vertical structure to receive more sunlight without having significant shadows.”
Inside the towers, a large number of sensors would monitor the crops and send real-time data on their status to various networks in charge of looking after them. This data would also keep track on how much food people are buying around the city, so the food produced by the farms could be adjusted accordingly. "The system will aim for zero food waste," Ponce said.
While these designs are just a concept at the moment, the architects are proposing that a set of prototypes on a smaller scale could be a good starting point to test them out. Right now, they’re looking into how much energy the farms would need to run on, and how much food they could produce at capacity. They’re also looking into taking the idea to another densely populated country - China.
"We believe these types of initiatives can be applied closer to the existing and new emerging urban centers in order to help mitigate the future food issue,” Ponce told FastCompany. "This can transform a city's nearby territories into more stimulating environments, capable of self-producing quality food in order to avoid massive imports from abroad."