Alpha Farm

Project date
11.08.2011
Type
  • Architecture
  • Green Infrastructure
  • Research
  • Retrofit
Location
North West England
Clients
Manchester International Festival
Associated team members
Associated documents

In 2011 we were commisioned by Manchester International Festival (MIF) to explore the challenges of converting a vacent office block in Wythenshawe into a functioning vertical farm. Working in partnership with Creative Concern, Biomatrix Water, Lancaster University and the University of Cambridge we concluded that by taking a comprehensive approach to the integration of nutrient, water and energy flows within the building a vertical farm has the potential to be developed as a resource ‘sensible’ model. By this we mean that the farm has the potential to grow food using less energy than conventional farming based on the input of large numbers of pesticides and fertilisers and the transport of food over large distances.

Further investigation and testing is still required to test these ideas further and we are currently working in partnership with Manchester College to develop a Biosphere as part of the Real Food Wythenshawe project that received funding from the Big Lottery Communities Living Sustaibably fund in 2012.

For more info on this project click here.

Key points from the report:

Challenge

A vertical farm will not be sustainable if it uses more energy than conventional agriculture. The balance between what is put in and what comes out has to make sense environmentally.

Our of our aims was to explore how we far we can minimise the energy required for the growing systems to work.  In seeking to do this we have been exploring the following issues:

 

Energy

-- How much natural light can we capture in the building?

-- How much light do we need to grow healthy and nutritious plants?

-- How can we minimise the energy demands of artificial lighting?

-- What temperature range do we need to maintain within the building?

-- What changes do we need to make to the building to achieve this?

 

Nutrients and water

-- What symbiotic relationships can we develop within the farm?

-- How can we recycle naturally obtained nutrients within the farm?

-- How much nutrient will we need and where will we source this from?

-- What will the water demand be and can we meet this by capturing water within the building footprint?

 

Growing Systems

-- What should we be growing and when?

-- Which growing systems should we be using?

-- Which growing systems should we locate where?