The Farmhouse is a vertical farm in a city centre that runs on an organic life-cycle of byproducts inside the building, where one processes output is another processes input.
A water-treatment system filters rain and greywater, enriches it with nutrients and cycles it back to the greenhouses. The food waste can be locally collected in the buildings basement, turned into compost and reused to grow more food.
“Our motivation for ‘the Farmhouse’ is personal, says Fei Precht. 2 years ago we relocated our office from the centre of Beijing to the mountains of Austria. We live and work now off the grid and try to be as self-sufficient as somehow possible. Nowadays we miss this physical and mental connection with nature and this project could be a catalyst to reconnect ourselves with the life-cycle of our environment.”
If food is grown within the region, the supply chain and the use of packaging gets shortened. Stacked gardens reduce the need to convert forests and allows used farmland to naturally restore itself. Moreover, vertical farms can produce a higher ratio of crop per planted area because the indoor climate of greenhouses protect the food against bad weather conditions and can offer different eco-systems for different plants.
The Farmhouse by Precht’s it’s a fully modular building system based on structural clarity of traditional A-Frame houses. Prefabricated offsite and flat-packed delivered by trucks, it shortens the time for construction and its affect on the surrounding.
For single-family structures, this systems gives a tool to home-owners to design their own place, based on the needs and the demands to living and farming.
Taller structures are assembled as duplex-sized A-frames, which provide a large open space on the first floor for a living-room and kitchen and a tent-like space on the second floor for bedrooms and bathrooms. The angled walls give space for gardening on their outside and create a V-shaped buffer zone between the apartments. This also lets natural ventilation and natural light come into the building.
In the next 50 years topics like organic agriculture, clean meat, social sourcing and ‘farm to table’ will be key elements. That means that our urban areas need to become part of an organic loop with the countryside to feed our population and provide food security for cities.
“If we stay disconnected with our eco-system, we cannot tackle the issues of our time. Reversing climate change, less pollution and a healthy food system, is now part of architecture. Those problems won’t be solved by new technology or new products alone. They will be solved by empathy. And this can become a task for us architects. If we want to encourage people to care about the environment, we need to bring the environment back into our cites.”