The rapid urbanization of recent decades is just the beginning of an ever-steeper growth curve. By 2050, the proportion of people living in urban areas will have surged to 70 percent. Over the last decade, we have seen shifts in the global economic power balance from West to East, as well as growing middle classes in emerging economies where standards of living and purchasing power are improving. In 2030, there will be nearly 8.3 billion people in the world. Combined with the consumption patterns of an expanding middle class, the demand for resources will grow substantially. The world will need 50 percent more energy, 40 percent more clean water and 35 percent more food. “Food is going to be the biggest challenge,” said Steffannia Russo, project lead, SPACE10/IKEA. “There will be a major lack of resources. The UN estimates we will need 70% more food within the next 35 years.”
“We became so distant from food that we started thinking of it as a commodity,” said Russo. “For example, it takes 11 months for an apple to reach the store. The amount of energy used to produce, process, package, store and transport an apple is 7.5 times the amount of energy it actually provides in return.” In today’s world, the food supply chain is responsible for about 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world. “What if we could grow tasty, nutritious food and make it accessible and affordable for many people,” Russo continued. “What if we tackle the increasing demand for food by pioneering a new paradigm of symbiotic food production and distribution, empowering everyone to join in?”
“We have developed the Growroom,” said Russo. “With the Growroom, we want to spark conversations about how we can bring nature back into our cities, grow our own food and tackle the rapidly increasing demand for significantly more food in the future.” New technologies have made it possible to take urban farming a step further. Russo explained: “Enabled by hydroponic systems, artificial lights and computerized automation we are able to give plants exactly what they need of water, minerals, oxygen.”
Hydrophonics? Hydrophonics is a method of growing plants without soil. “The method is already used in London, where they build Growrooms in the empty metro tunnels,” Russo said. Seeds will be placed in a hydroponic tank full of nutrients and water, but without soil. The tank will then slide fluidly around the farm, as if on a conveyer belt, to demonstrate the vegetables inside at different stages of growth. This means, plants can grow 4 or 5 times faster than in a field. “Using 90 percent less water, producing much less waste, and without the need of soil nor sunlight, the method requires much less space than traditional farming, and ultimately leaves a smaller carbon footprint on the environment,” said Russo. Once a person plants a seed, an online device will match their profile with it. “You can’t control what you can’t measure,” Russo said. “They can then connect to the farm digitally using an Eataly World app to follow their plant’s development, which will be tracked by biologic sensors.”
When the vegetable is ripe, the visitor can collect it from the pavilion to be eaten or given away. “LOKAL is a fresh approach to serving food right where it’s grown. Because, the closer, the better, both for you and the planet,” said Russo. “The result on our dining tables is just as fascinating,” Russo continued. “We can produce food that tastes better, is much more nutritional and healthy for us, doesn’t contain chemicals and is fresh all year round.”
The Growroom was first exhibited at CHART ART FAIR and later on Vice’s Munchies Festival in Copenhagen’s meatpacking district. Visitors were invited to step into the farm, smell the abundance of herbs and plants, and taste a future where food is produced in a sustainable manner inside the cities and as a natural part of people’s lives. The Growroom is designed for cities and with it’s size 2,8 x 2,5 meter it has a small spatial footprint as you grow vertically.
Build it yourself
The pavilion, built as a sphere, can stand freely in any context and points in a direction of expanding contemporary and shared architecture. The overlapping slices ensure that water and light can reach the vegetation on each level, without reaching the visitor within and thereby functions as a growth activator for the vegetation and shelter for the visitor. Russo concludes: “The perspective is captivating and the reason why we’ve built The Growroom. We want people to explore this groundbreaking opportunity for all of us. Also, you can build your own Grownroom in your backyard!” You can build your own Growroom in 17 easy steps. Find the instructions below and download the cutting files for free right here.”