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Urban Farm Versus the Apocalypse

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Urban Farm on a Rainy Day © Jon Ellis (aka jonorobo). Click each image to see enlarged version on DeviantArt.

Most concept art is obsessed with various forms of self-inflicted apocalypse.  If humanity has any hope to avert future catastrophes, that hope lays with designers, architects and engineers.

I came across the Urban Farm concept art by architect Jon Ellis and was struck by the beautiful images and what they represent. Creative thinking that builds inspiration for practical solutions – yes. Looking at this, the angles and green crops growing skyward, the market level and how it all fits in a conceivable way into the landscape, I want one here in my home city. The angled building is like a jungle canopy in reverse: letting more light reach the ground floors, or perhaps drawing in more sun in a northern hemisphere when the winter sun lays low to the south.

Let’s work to make sure the future isn’t something that just happens, but is instead designed.

Urban Farm Thesis Model © Jon Ellis

Urban Farm: Atrium © Jon Ellis

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Make sure to visit Jon Ellis’s sites to see even more images from the Urban Farm project.


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Glendon Mellow About the Author: Glendon Mellow is a fine artist, illustrator and tattoo designer working in oil and digital media based in Toronto, Canada. He tweets @FlyingTrilobite and is on Instagram. You can see Glendon's work-in-progress at The Flying Trilobite blog and portfolio at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Arbeiter 1:01 pm 11/30/2013

    Ground level sunshine, noon summer solstice, is 1004 W/m^2: 527 W IR, 445 W visible, 32 W UV. Architectural hallucination cannot violate projected surface area. The amortized cost of the crop (including building cost, interest, energy, and consummables) would be grotesque. Issue bonds to enslave the young. Have a well-working website to fuel the Ponzi scheme until you can flee the country.

    RuBisCO is Earth’s slowest (~8 turnovers/sec), least-efficient (~3%) enzyme – the first step in photosynthetic carbon fixation. 100 turnovers/sec (still awful) and 20% efficiency (still awful) increase harvest 8300%. Fire the architect, hire a gene-gineer, and buy Congresscritters not to prohibit the future.

    Would you pay $30/lb for carrots? Consider a generous tax refund for doing so, for which nobody will qualify.

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  2. 2. Glendon Mellow 2:10 pm 11/30/2013

    Wow, Arbeiter: you just wrote a back-of-the-novel apocalyptic sf version of the artwork above. Um, bravo.

    Or something.

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  3. 3. Arbeiter 6:47 pm 11/30/2013

    Social advocacy is feeding us to ourselves.

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  4. 4. juliethebookworm 4:18 am 12/11/2013

    Something has to be done and whether this is the most cost effective way to go about it or not, at least some one knows there is a problem to solve and is thinking about a solution. How many people get every detail right the first round anyway. Do you have abt suggestions? Cynics seldom do.

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