Researcher for future buildings and cities
Biological Food City
February - June 2011

The food city project collected general data for a food city of 1.000.000 inhabitants. With this data we can develop visions of the future food city. What would it look like if all the food was produced in the city itself? We can focus on different aspects of the food city. In our case we focused on the need of growing food biologically.

Why a biological food city?

The pesticides used in monocultures harm the environment and get into our food. Soluble fertilizers contaminate groundwater and fuel the overgrowth of algae.

The majority of the animals are produced by factory farming. The living conditions of animals in factory farms are harsh and cause health problems for both the animals and the employees. Antibiotics on animals risk resistancy, health of the meat, and health of the environment fertilized with animal manure. Keeping livestock has a big impact on the environment because animals need to be fed and livestock produces manure. Currently, in the US the production animals produce 130 times more fecies than US inhabitants. This enormous amount of fecies ends up in our rivers, lakes and seas, and causes pollution.

Main design solutions of the biological city

1. Reduce amount of livestock
We need livestock to feed ourselves but we also need their manure to fertilize our fields. But we don't need the amount of livestock we have right now. To biologically keep the animals we need an enormous amount of land which is not environmentally friendly. Therefore, the city limits the meat production to a healthy amount per inhabitant. This will lead to about 1/3 less space necessary for animals in the city.

2. Reduce footprint
All surfaces of the biological city are fitted on a footprint of 25 by 25 kilometer to leave more space for natural ecosystems. In order to fit all surfaces on this plot, they need to be stacked on top of each other. For the bottom layers to receive rain water as well, all layers are connected to each other so the stream of nutrients and water flows through all layers.

3. Reduce energy consumption
The biological city aims to use as less energy as possible. Therefore, the crop fields use natural light. The grid of the city, with voids between the stacked layers, is based on this aim. To reduce the energy consumption by food transport, homes are scattered accross the city.

4. Avoid monocultures
Monocultures are easily affected by unwanted organisms such as insects and are therefore treated with pesticides. To avoid the use of pesticides, the biological city splits grow surfaces into small units and scatters them accross the city.

5. Farming rules
Crop rotation reduces the need for artificial fertilizers and will keep the soil balanced. Joining animal species on the same field improves the soils absorption of animal manure.

6. Forestry
The city contains small pieces of forestry, connected to the agricultural land to provide the agricultural surfaces with important nutrients.

7. Solutions for foreign crops
Crops grown in tropical climates cannot be grown in the open air of an average European city. The city contains artificial grow areas in greenhouses for those crops.

8. Environmentally friendly energy production
Energy is produced with windmills and biogas installations. The biogas installations also produce fertilizer from organic waste. They are placed next to the greenhouses, so the heat they produce can directly be used in the greenhouse.

The axonometry of the biologicial city shows the three sizes of grids.
What would it look like if you were living in this city? And where would the 1.000.000 inhabitants of the city live? Part of the layers can be dedicated for living. This means the inhabitants are sourrounded by the food they will later eat. Since food is transported from the higher parts of the city towards the lower parts, the city could become more inhabited towards the lower centre of the city.

1. Intensive farming: 2,6 animals per m2, 10% of the total grow surface
2. Biological farming with the same amount of animals: including areas for crops to feed animals 0,003 animals per m2, 90% of the total grow surface.
3. Biological farming with the amount of animals for a healthy meat consumption: including areas for crops to feed animals 0,003 animals per m2, 60% of the total grow surface.
Mirrors could increase the amount of natural light on every layer.
Food that won't be able to grow in the natural climate is grown in greenhouses.

See more of my research and projects on the food city or sustainability topic: