One of the things that was apparent when we decided on our programme, was that it would play a big role in our climate story. With our climate plan we hope to answer two basic questions about this project; why here, and why with people.
First of all, how do we grow the plants.
The orientation of the building and the placement of the cell within is a deciding factor for the type of plant we grow in a particular cell. On top, southern cell we can crop even tropical varieties, while the bottom, north side is especially well suited for shade loving varieties that grow in lower temperatures.
By growing multiple types of plants next to each other, and mixing them in a clever way, the benefits we gain from this method are substantial. Some plants, like tomato plants for example, spread a chemical in the air that repels the bugs that would normally eat asparagus plants. Parsley masks the scent of carrots so bugs won’t even think to get near it. In this way, we can reduce the amount if pesticides used to a minimum. Bigger plants that grow over multiple years (perennial crops) can be intercropped with small varieties that only grow for one or two seasons when they are at their smallest. When fully grown, shade loving plants can be grown under these smaller trees or big plants. In this way we are as economic as possible with the space, however limited, given to us.
By not draining the soil of one type of nutrient, and attracting different beneficial soil microorganisms, the need for artificial fertilizers is also eliminated. Adding fish like trout to system, kept in large overhead tanks, we can minimize the amount of water used in our system. The fish produce ammonia, which bacteria turn into nitrates that are beneficial for the crops. They in turn purify the water, which is then reused in the fish tank. When the water is no longer usable after a number of cycles, it is refilled by group 6’s excess pre-filtered rainwater, while the old water is filtered by non-edible plants (when fully grown used to produce biogass) and used for standard gray water purposes.
All the plant cells are interconnected by the tubes between them, creating a living ecosystem that is easily adaptable to changing local needs, since the whole building is not geared towards the production of one specific type of crop.
The living parts of the cell can also benefit from plants; by placing certain types of flower and air-purifying plants into the living cells the inhabitants enjoy fresh air and a nice view. The plants in the living space also do their part in relation to the rest of the ecosystem; chemicals beneficial to other plants will be transported with the same air that is pumped up to the growing space.
This is done by applying a system of underpressure, to ensure only air from the living space passes on to the growing space. We also use air to climatise the building; in summer, excess heat is passed on to a body of water through a heat exchanger , the water stored underground with the building acting as a thermal buffer. This water is pumped up in winter, and the heat is given of to the air, in this way heating the building. Once inside the living cell, it will slowly warm up more and pass on to the plant cell, being at plant-friendly temperature.
Different growing cycles
Different growing cycles of plants means that in some periods, more plants will be ready for harvesting than other times. This increased need for personnel can be solved by asking inhabitants to apply for an on-call job where they will be called up when necessary, and in this way decrease their rent. Since it is all indoors, the harvest can take place after study hours.