9/23/2011

Self Sustaining Vertical Farm for Los Angeles

The Whittier Organic Food center is a state-of-the-art food production testing and learning facility that recently took top honors in the Calvin Family Travel Fellowship.  The project creates opportunities for social sustainability in Los Angeles, leasing areas of the garden and tower green walls to locals for micro-agro business.  Crops are stored for disaster relief, and distribution and sales to local restaurants and school cafeterias, germinating like a seed in the community.  The on-site food bank reaches out to those in need and provides on-site housing for students and trade laboratories wishing to pursue work in urban agriculture.



Designer Daniel Toole analyzed the lack of density and infrastructure within the city of Los Angeles, which presents a myriad of severe urban design problems.  Little rain and high solar exposure create further environmental issues for development.  Whittier will become a catalyst for a new form of Southwestern urbanism, utilizing the land, a small footprint, the sun, and the scarce water supply.

Program

The required large 400,000 ft3 hydroponic ware-house warrants a large amount of site coverage for conventional greenhouse layout.  By flipping the largest program vertically, the higher altitude is utilized for on-site energy generation through increased wind and solar exposure, while the essential function of hydroponics is allowed to happen with natural gravity.




Materials

Ultra light weight thin film photovoltaic integrated ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) pillows provide excellent housing for greenhouses as they expand and contract by pumping air through them, controlling high to low insulation values. They are made of high-recycled content, self cleaning, and blow away like flakes in fire, making them highly efficient.  They are tensile and work perfect for rainwater and condensation harvesting with their smooth surface and variable temperature.  Reclaimed wood screens, recycled steel, and high fly ash concrete are all made and fabricated locally minimizing carbon emissions.