Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Rooftop Fish Farm and Vegetable Garden in Our Futures

An artist's concept of the rooftops once the Globe comes into vogue. Illustration courtesy: © Antonio Scarponi/Conceptual Devices

With rooftops across the world being used to grow food, raise chickens, and provide habitat, how does the enterprising urban grower up the ante? Perhaps with a rooftop fish farm.

The prototype Globe/Hedron "is a bamboo greenhouse designed to organically grow fish and vegetables on top of generic flat roofs. The design is optimized for aquaponic farming techniques: the fish’s water nourishes the plants and plants clean the water for the fish," according to designer Antonio Scarponi/Conceptual Devices, who is collaborating on the project with the Zurich-based group UrbanFarmers.

"Using this farming technique, Globe/Hedron is optimized to feed four families of four all year round," Scarponi writes, projecting that it could annually produce 100 kilograms of fish and 400 kilograms of vegetables, from broccoli and Swiss chard in the winter to tomatoes and eggplant in the summer.

Illustration shows how the aquaponics will be handled in the Globes. Illustration courtesy: © Antonio Scarponi/Conceptual Devices

The creators of Globe/Hedron, which TreeHugger first got wind of on designboom, are raising money on indiegogo to build the initial prototype.

According to Scarponi, the geodesic-dome design allows the heavy fish tank to rest on the frame of the greenhouse and be redistributed to a larger surface, so "the aquaponic farm can be housed on more roofs without any structural building adaptation."

The dome can be equipped with PV panels and cooling turbines to generate energy and the basic structure can be adapted with greenhouse panels or insulating panels to suit different environments and weather conditions. The grow beds inside can also be installed in different configurations "according to cost, environmental needs, and optimized insulation," and the whole dome can be disassembled and packed inside the fish tank for easier shipping.

Scarponi says he hopes the globe will be self-sufficient energy-wise, reducing operating costs, and sell for about the price of a small car.

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