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Spiraling Skyscraper Farms For a Future Manhattan

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the biomorphic-structures-are-made-of-people dept.

Earth 403

Mike writes "One of three finalists in this year's Evolo Skyscraper Competition, Eric Vergne's Dystopian Farm project envisions a future New York City interspersed with elegantly spiraling skyscraper farms. The biomorphic structures harness cutting-edge technology to provide the city with its own self-sustaining food source while dynamically altering the fabric of city life."

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403 comments

Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875489)

One of three finalists in this year's Evolo Skyscraper Competition, Eric Vergne's Dystopian Farm project envisions a future New York City ...

So that's what they're aiming for these days? A dystopian future? Well, at least the architects are catching on to the trend our government's been setting.

I don't know if it's Slashdotted or what but from what I can see in other sources [treehugger.com] , these are really just photoshopped images some dude made while tripping balls.

I may have been raised a dumbass farmboy but here's a few hints to architects like this guy:

  • Plants (especially plants like alfalfa or grasses [wikivisual.com] as depicted) have massive root systems requiring literally tons of soil to be healthy.
  • Tons of soil weigh a lot.
  • Soil has no architectural integrity.
  • Buildings don't like tons of weight with no architectural integrity.
  • Plants need water. Lots of water.
  • Buildings don't like water.
  • Plants die & rot (it's natural). Rotting plants smell. People don't like smelly buildings.
  • Currently we use large machines to cultivate plants because it sucks, none of these images look like that would be possible.

I could go on for hours about how completely unrealistic this bad idea is. These pictures indicate that the architects have little to no idea of how top soil and nutrient cycles work.

There's no better way to put a million people into a square mile than skyscrapers in a city. Leave Manhattan as Manhattan and instead focus your efforts on controlling waste and returning the Northeast to massive forests (for some reason Americans love to overlook the ridiculous logging that took place here while we bitch and moan about the rain forests).

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (3, Funny)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875533)

You forgot to mention that it's "not even a mother could love it" ugly.

The design is apparently "gigantic opened up hornets nest", and it looks like finding a level surface to put a chair on might be difficult.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875567)

and it looks like finding a level surface to put a chair on might be difficult.
Much less farm equipment or even farmers. Apparently the farm of the future will be farmed by the newly sentient chimpanzee...

the big question is (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875579)

how long until a couple of Arabs fly a plane into these things?

Re:the big question is (1, Flamebait)

Runefox (905204) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875649)

Fuck the extremists, I'd fly a plane into these things.

This design give me the creeps, not to mention its obvious shortcomings as pointed out by the surprisingly intelligent first post.

Re:the big question is (1)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875911)

Fuck the extremists, I'd fly a plane into these things.

That knock at your door is your friendly homeland security agent bringing gifts.

Re:the big question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876287)

Looking at the buildings, I suspect the gifts are a "learn to fly" instruction DVD and the keys to a 747.

Re:the big question is (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875663)

about as long as it took you to come up with such a clever response

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875591)

What about the stuff they use on Chia pets? The soil there doesn't weigh too much, does it?

I am not a farmer.

Gotta have food though (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875607)

There's no better way to put a million people into a square mile than skyscrapers in a city. Leave Manhattan as Manhattan and instead focus your efforts on controlling waste and returning the Northeast to massive forests (for some reason Americans love to overlook the ridiculous logging that took place here while we bitch and moan about the rain forests).

I pretty much agree with everything you say, but... isn't the point of this silly exercise to be able to free up the land to go back to forests?

People seem to want to continue eating food, so... if we reforest the Eastern U.S., where does the food come from? While the stated concept may be ridiculous, the underlying idea of vertical farming [wikipedia.org] (and/or hydroponics [wikipedia.org] ) may have some value...

Re:Gotta have food though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875933)

...or reduce the population...

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875629)

Tons of soil weigh alot? By my calculations it should only weigh a few tons..

and no, you do not need soil to grow plants.. Hydroponics and Aeroponics do not use soil and have impressive yields.

The rest of your argument is just as poorly thought out, the major down side I see to farming in the city is the toxins the plants will absorb from the air making it into the food supply.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875653)

A little rebuttal to your points #1, 2, 3 and 4: hydroponics.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (3, Funny)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875661)

Give him a small break, the plans do indicate using aeroponics.

So instead of tons of dirt & water, the building only needs a 90% humidity level.

Just imagine the mold on your servers.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875677)

That's of course the reality. Future cities will look much like today's. One thing's for sure, given population trends : food is either going to be "engineered" using energy from another source than the sun, and directly synthesized from co2 and h2o, or we're going to be badly fucked and kill 90% of the population.

Any such farm will therefore simply be a large solar panel (over 80 times more efficient than plants) and a factory floor. The solar panel's optional.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (4, Funny)

random coward (527722) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876071)

Malthus! Is that you? What makes you think you'll be right this time?

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876281)

Well, the question is.. how far in the future is he talking?

Not the near future, for sure, but assuming world population doesn't follow a logistic growth curve with an asymptote somewhere between 9e9 - 12e9, eventually there will be enough people to require extreme food production measures, like the algal vats of "Caves of Steel" perhaps.

And even if it does, as appears likely, have an asymptote at that level, the addition of an even more plentiful food source would change the equations in favor of more people anyway.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (2, Insightful)

travisb828 (1002754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875683)

To me a more realistic version of urban farming would be small gardens on the balconies of the sunny side of a high rise. Then the condo board could have a little farmers market in the lobby. This would depend on the willingness of the residents to work their little gardens. I guess you could get a break on HOA fees if you produce a good supply of fruits and vegetables.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (2, Insightful)

engineerofsorts (692517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875727)

You also forgot: A key part of photosynthesis is the "photo" part. What is this idiot planning to do, have a zillion megawatts/acre of grow lights on all the lower levels? Kill a forest or two to power this POS. This "architect" should get negative points on is certified moron exam for excess display of ignorance.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (3, Informative)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876297)

What is this idiot planning to do, have a zillion megawatts/acre of grow lights on all the lower levels?

Perhaps this idiot is planning to harness the power of the sun like every other farmer does. Maybe he even has a technology [ecogeek.org] already at his disposal that would make it feasible and cost effective.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875791)

Apparently you have never been to the Living Earth at Epcot. They have plants growing quite successfully with absolutely zero soil. In the air. On rotating armatures.
For a closer to home example, go two houses down and ask the indoor pot growers how many plants they have going in that converted home.
Also, look into biofilm farming technology.

Or, better yet, you could ACTUALLY research some of your points before you jump on the "this could never happen, just destroy the communities outside NYC" rant train.

It is all technologically feasible, if not likely in the way the entrant envisions. If you believe half of the futurists in the country, it's almost inevitable unless someone finds a way to regulate the human birth rate.

In short: STFU, read more dystopian novels, and think outside of your cube.

Economics (5, Interesting)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875801)

And even if they could solve all the engineering problems, there is no way it will ever be economically viable to use prime real estate in the middle of Manhattan for farming. It will always cost more to farm in a sky scraper than on the ground, so they won't be able to compete in the global market against traditional farms. Furthermore, using it locally won't matter either. New York is a major shipping hub, and has more fresh food passing through it than the vast majority of the country, and as a consequence has lower grocery prices than many parts of the country.

The only point at which something like this would make sense is if we've transformed the vast majority of the planet into a giant city, like Tantor.

Re:Economics (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876023)

It will always cost more to farm in a sky scraper than on the ground, so they won't be able to compete in the global market against traditional farms.

That assumes that moving 1000 of tons of food stuff long distances every day is always going to be cheap which in a world of finite fossil fuels is a risky strategy.

Re:Economics (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876215)

The only point at which something like this would make sense is if we've transformed the vast majority of the planet into a giant city, like Tantor.

You mean Trantor [wikipedia.org] Tantor [wikipedia.org] is a fictional element. Coruscant [wikipedia.org] would also be an accepted example.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (4, Insightful)

Reziac (43301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875809)

Not to mention that most food-producing plants need a full day of DIRECT sunlight every day of their lives. Indirect light doesn't cut it. Half days of sunlight don't cut it. They need more energy than that (after all, plants are essentially an energy-binding system, and their food value is directly proportional to how much energy they can bind).

Oh, and about water, it's heavy. WAY heavier than soil. Dry soil is light, but not much grows in it. Watered soil is heavy!

Whenever I see a project like this, I know the designer has read too much science fiction and hasn't driven enough combines.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875829)

You could do it with hydroponics. It might even be a good idea to generate extra food for a city's needs. You have an abundance of power, water, and minerals. We can turn them into delicious food.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876305)

Renraku (518261): "You have an abundance of power, water, and minerals. We can turn them into delicious food."

Soylent Green is eldavojohn (898314)!

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (4, Insightful)

denttford (579202) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875857)

Not only that, but from a real estate perspective, it makes no sense. If you build vertical space in Manhattan people or companies want to move in.

Apples don't give much of a good goddamn in which county they are grown. People care where they live.
If vertical farming makes sense (from an economic and agricultural perspective) do it... I don't know... maybe on farmland?

This post brought to you from the 12th floor in Midtown.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875877)

This post brought to you from the 12th floor in Midtown.

Jesus Christ, a New Yorker agreeing with me?!

Are we really that close to the apocalypse?

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876415)

Well, people are apparently planning for a dystopian future where Manhattan acreage is used for cropland, so yeah, looks like it's pretty close.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875867)

I could go on for hours about how completely unrealistic this bad idea is. These pictures indicate that the architects have little to no idea of how top soil and nutrient cycles work.

Here's one more for ya:

There is no way this thing is self-sustaining.

You see food is energy. Plants convert sunlight into food energy. I don't care if you put solar panels on the roof, and recycle every tiny piece of waste, more energy is going out (as food) than coming in. The only way this thing will work is if a massive external source of energy is used to power it.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875883)

Most of your arguments come down to one thing: soil.

Generally, vertical farming ideas utilize hydroponics (growing plants with nutrients dissolved in water) to get around this problem. It is a technology that has been used (in smaller scales) for decades with many different plant species and is known to produce much higher yields (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroponics#Higher_Yields/ [wikipedia.org] ). Ironically, hydroponic farming also uses much less water than traditional farming, because the water is recycled through the system until it is actually used by the plants as opposed to irrigating a field and having most of the water evaporate before it is used.

As for the other issues, I have toured several greenhouses in my life and it is not a smell that is repulsive. Many people enjoy the smell of growing things, though doubtless it is something that urbanites would have to get used to. As far as cultivation, well there is no need to spray herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizer so generally the only cultivation necessary is planting and harvesting. Do you honestly believe that we can build machines to plant and harvest thousands of acres of open field, but can't automate the process in a controlled environment?

I'm not saying that this particular design is sound, it looks like a fairytale structure the guy though would look cool rather than something designed with efficiency or strength in mind.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (3, Informative)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876013)

Hmmm.... From the article:

>By 2050 nearly 80% of the worldâ(TM)s population will reside in urban centers, and 109 hectares of arable land will be needed to feed them.

109 hectares is all we will need to feed all of the worlds city population! Cool... ;)

Though getting to your points:

>Plants (especially plants like alfalfa or grasses [wikivisual.com] as depicted) have massive root systems requiring literally tons of soil to be healthy.

No not really... What plants need are nutrients, sun, and water. Soil is not necessary actually. What soil does is moderate the distribution of those things.

>Plants need water. Lots of water.

Well that depends. It depends on how you will distribute the water to them.

>Buildings don't like water.

Not necessarily, it really depends on the materials used to build them.

> Plants die & rot (it's natural). Rotting plants smell. People don't like smelly buildings.

Plants need to be trimmed and taken care off. We have a gardening philosophy where you grow and let it die.

>Currently we use large machines to cultivate plants because it sucks, none of these images look like that would be possible.

How about the iRobot company?

For example you do the following:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroponics [wikipedia.org]

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (1)

ichthyoboy (1167379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876075)

These pictures indicate that the architects have little to no idea of how top soil and nutrient cycles work.

And apparantly, neither does commercial agriculture if you look at the erosional rate of topsoil for most forms of tillage.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876313)

Yes that sounds like a Dystopian Farm to me! It sounds like Eric will have no problem in his success.

NYC knows how to deal with people like this. (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876341)

Anyone so foolish as to attempt to "dynamically altering the fabric of city life" in NYC will find himself fed to the rabid taxi cabs in short order.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876345)

Leave Manhattan as Manhattan and instead focus your efforts on controlling waste and returning the Northeast to massive forests (for some reason Americans love to overlook the ridiculous logging that took place here while we bitch and moan about the rain forests).

As any pilot who has flown over the Northeast will tell you, the trees are doing amazingly well here. In fact, during the summer it can get increasingly difficult to find the ground over many suburban areas. Yes, this may not be the old growth forests that were here 200 years ago, but we have recovered remarkably well from the completely denuded landscape of the late 19th century.

In fact, this past fall I went on a walk through a very dense patch of woods. The tour guide told us that the whole town used to be completely open and that the trees there were less than 100 years old, since we no longer had to cut down all the trees to burn for heat.

Behind my house is a prime example of land that used to be actively cultivated. There is a tree there that would have been in the middle of a field, based on the rock walls - a smooth barked beech that has "1923 KH + LM" carved on it about 8 feet up. (I did my part and added our initials alongside lots of other ones from 1923 to 1945) It is about 60 feet tall. Reforestation is not the problem. Hell, with the real estate bubble burst we don't even have to worry about developers knocking down *all* the trees to make a new subdivision since they aren't doing that anymore anyway.

Re:Pretty Pictures with Little to No Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876453)

As any pilot who has flown over the Northeast will tell you, the trees are doing amazingly well here. In fact, during the summer it can get increasingly difficult to find the ground over many suburban areas. Yes, this may not be the old growth forests that were here 200 years ago, but we have recovered remarkably well from the completely denuded landscape of the late 19th century.

You and I must have differing opinions on what "remarkably" means.

Your anecdote is hilariously quaint. Please do some research [wikipedia.org] before opening your lying mouth ... you sound like a logging puppet actually.

Your little "assessment" of the housing market being a reason the trees should be ok is equally ignorant and amusing.

You're missing the main underlying problem... (1)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876399)

...which is simply real estate costs. I just don't see how this could be economically viable.

Gives a whole new meaning... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875505)

to 'eat me out of house and home!'

Pollution? (4, Insightful)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875523)

Any concern about the dense air pollution in NYC getting into the food? Doesn't seem like particularly "organic" food when the plants are feeding on car exhaust and cigarette smoke...

Employment problems solved.. (4, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875529)

It's very pretty and all, but for all it's "I copied this from nature!" functionality he seems to have forgotten to design a way to actually harvest the crops. If you can't drive a combine harvester or a tractor around it then it's not much cop as a farm.

Unless he's suggesting we return to manual labour. In which case he's solved all our employment problems at the same time and he should be heralded as a genius.

Re:Employment problems solved.. (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875613)

Even if you could get a combine up there, good luck finding someone to drive it.

There aren't any railings!

Hell, if they did convince someone to do so, I'd stay fair clear of it lest I became combined with the concrete after one went over.

Re:Employment problems solved.. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875645)

Unless he's suggesting we return to manual labour.

Well, it is the "Dystopian Farm project". Of course, the architects wouldn't have to do any of that manual labor: they'd be busy designing more of these remarkably ugly things.

Re:Employment problems solved.. (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875721)

I'd imagine they could just build the harvester into the building itself and basically automate everything from the planting to the harvesting. Of course I'd still recommend a human presence to monitor it and to know when the harvest is ready.

Re:Employment problems solved.. (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875749)

It looks to me more like he copied it from hive-building aliens.

Re:Employment problems solved.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875897)

While I think the idea is bogus for reasons eldavojohn outlined above, the only reason combine harvesters are so large is because farms are so large. If you actually built this, you'd make a harvester the size of a geo metro, possibly even having a chute down the side (or center) to unload the bin on every lap around.

Re:Employment problems solved.. (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876137)

What kind of 'combine' harvests tomatoes, lettuces and all the other plants that are currently hydroponically grown for mass markets?

Re:Employment problems solved.. (1)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876229)

Im sure, in a world where a car is built almost entirely by machines, that we can find a way to build a cultivating machine that comes from the ceiling or walls, rather than from a huge machine.

I think its a very interesting idea, and that he should be encouraged - at least hes out there, trying to solve a problem.

If it works, itll be easier to bring in crops locally, rather having to ship everything 500 miles before it even sees a single person.

-Fred

Re:Employment problems solved.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876317)

Unless he's suggesting we return to manual labour. In which case he's solved all our employment problems at the same time and he should be heralded as a genius.

I'm an even better genius, I've got this plan to pay people 1 cent per year to hop up and down on one foot. I could employ the entire population of the USA for $3 million a year.

Oh wait, you mean it's not just about being employed but also about salary - and salary is based on the value of what is produced? Hmmm, back to the drawing board.

Who will eat whatever is grown there? (2, Insightful)

Walpurgiss (723989) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875597)

Who exactly is going to be willing to eat produce grown in a smog cloud? I doubt people will eat that food just because it was grown in the city, so it won't really sustain the city. It is unlikely ever to be cheaper to produce food there than in foreign fields.

Re:Who will eat whatever is grown there? (2, Insightful)

StarFace (13336) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875695)

Ever heard of catsup, or boston baked beans? People eat utter crap. Hardly anyone eats fresh produce in quantities enough to notice whether or not it had relatively clean air as a child.

Re:Who will eat whatever is grown there? (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875779)

Also, if you're going to do this, why not remember that plants photosynthesis is about 2% efficient (2% of the energy it captures it gets transformed into food, which is then processed into plant material at about 30% or-so efficiency).

So 0.6% efficiency energy -> food is the absolute upper limit on these things. I think we can do better chemically.

We can't do so cheaper than agriculture (with cheap, abundant oil available), but that's the future, of course : synthetized food.

Simply co2+h2o+electricity -> starch, sugar, ... Preferably at more than 2% efficiency.

We can beat plants when it comes to food production. Of course the need vitamins and such will necessitate additives of meat and real plants for a few hundred years to come, but the next agricultural revolution is beyond obvious :

not relying on plants anymore

Re:Who will eat whatever is grown there? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875869)

Of course the need vitamins and such will necessitate additives of meat and real plants for a few hundred years to come...

We already have millions of people, today, living without any meat.

Re:Who will eat whatever is grown there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876055)

You can claim we can do it cheaper chemically, but eventually someone is going to find out... Soylent green is people!

Re:Who will eat whatever is grown there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876315)

Who will eat this food? Anyone who purchases food from that is prepared or processed in some way. Companies like restaurants, fast food chains, distributors and grocery stores will purchase the produce and integrate it into the things they create. In reality it will be the distributors who purchase the food to be integrated into the end products.

Why would they purchase food from this instead of from a foreign field? Cost of transportation. If you own a food factory in new york that creates T.V. dinners, ketchup or any other processed food product and you can factor out the cost of transport from your purchasing, it gets a bit cheaper . . .

If you think consumers will boycott food that comes from this and go for "real" farms, well look at the prices and dominance of Organic food in most supermarkets.

Quite topical considering.... (0)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875691)

The complaints of taxes on downloads in NY that were made today. NYC has had an unsustainable population since the early 1900s. From this story [nycsubway.org]

Probably it had not been for the blizzard the people of the city might have ignored one for an indefinite time enduring the nuisance of electric wires dangling from poles, of slow trains running on the trestlework, and slower cars drawn by horses in the streets dangerous with their center tearing rails. Now two things tolerably certain that a system of a really rapid transit which cannot be made inoperable by storms must be straightaway devised and as speedily as possible constructed and that all the electric wires -- telegraph, telephone, fire alarms, and illuminating -- must be put underground without any delay.

At some point it will become nearly impossible to import enough food and merchandise to sustain the population of NYC as it is dispersed currently. Increasing the volume of locally produced food stuff will definitely decrease the cost of living there by some degree... if enough is produced there. Unfortunately, as the story details it, such efforts are also vulnerable to the elements if not encased inside the buildings themselves. In the terms of climate change I think this is necessarily appropriate to think of. The closer that NYC comes to being a city in a bubble, the closer we are to many science fiction themes... interesting.

eldavojohn = noob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875715)

ever hear of hydroponics? plants that can be sustained by nutrient rich water, without soil?
"These organic structures will harness systems such as airoponic watering, nutrient technology and controlled lighting and CO2 levels to meet the food demands of future populations."

i never heard of airoponics, but i assume its similar to hydroponics, thus negating the need for soil. No one designs a billion dollar building without looking at everything. Im sure there will be specially made machines to harvest.

How will crops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875723)

pay for the infrastructure? Those will be expensive artichokes.

silithid (4, Funny)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875747)

Looks like something the silithid [wowwiki.com] might build. I'm thinking the cenarion circle is going to ask me to go there and hack up 15 searchers, 20 tunnelers, and return with 5 egg sacks for study.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875753)

I guess I don't get it, is this anything more than a pretty picture. What would be the motivation to build something like this? It certainly wouldn't be economically favorable. It would probably cost billions of dollars for R&D and construction to make it happen. All for what? Why go to the trouble when you can grow more food in a better climate and just ship it in... all for much, much less?

Interesting but wrong idea (3, Insightful)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875765)

I seem to remember some statistic from history about food production in the USA where it was 100 years ago it took like 70 people to provide enough food for 100 people a year, then 50 years ago it was some other number, and currently it is like 5 people can feed 100 for a year. I dont think that food production is really a big problem for the future. Food distrobution might, but again I doubt it. Employment to buy said food is the issue. Building a brand new ultra modern skyscraper isnt going to help much when the only people that can afford to live in it are executives who can afford anything they need already.
There are too many people, in the USA and abroad, who have zero employable skills. Personally I think it falls back to the question of education. We dont need as much manual labor as we used to. We need more thinkers. Kids nowdays are lazy and stupid, hardly a bright future when it comes to scientific development.

kids today (3, Funny)

whistlingtony (691548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875907)

Everyone thinks "kids today" are bad... You know what? they're not. They're just as dumb as their parents were at that age. I know I did plenty of stupid stuff when I was young....

Plenty of kids today are bright and creative, and now have outlets for that creativity thanks to our wonderful information age.

So go stick in your craw Gramps.

-T

Re:kids today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876185)

GP has a point about generalized education and it's slow but constant reduction in "quality."

Take for instance, this 1890 8th grade final examination from Saline kansas. (Note, this was (and still is) a very backward country bumpkin town.)

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, Kansas - 1895

This is the eighth-grade final exam* from 1895 from Salina, Kansas. It was taken
from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society
and Library in Salina, Kansas and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10.Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?

Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e'. Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10.Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of N.A.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10.Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

The top of the test states > "EXAMINATION GRADUATION QUESTIONS OF SALINE COUNTY, KANSAS
April 13, 1895 J.W. Armstrong, County Superintendent.Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)"
-----

I know many high school students who wouldn't be able to pass this test.

Re:kids today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876437)

How much money does a box full of wheat make me? That mountain range over there, whats its name? What significant event happened in 1607? I can't pass this test because a lot of it is trivia that takes less than 30 seconds looking up and a lot that I feel is not relevant to modern life. I state this as someone who has degrees in computer engineering and math and currently taking classes for a degree in civil and work for a engineering firm. The main point, in my opinion, of education is to learn how to think and solve problems. Learning how to look up trivia is hardly helpful. Learning how and/or where to go to solve your problems is a much better use of time than memorizing 'facts'.

SimCity? (1)

spydum (828400) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875811)

Reminds me of SimCity 2000 (yes, the OLD one, just after the original SimCity) and the bio domes/cork screw buildings.

Re:SimCity? (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875967)

Reminds me of SimCity 2000 (yes, the OLD one, just after the original SimCity) and the bio domes/cork screw buildings.

Well, this makes sense, since he was given some LSD, and a sketchpad, and told to draw whatever came to mind while he played sim city...

Re:SimCity? (1)

StarFace (13336) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876451)

That would be one of these [wikipedia.org] ! I love how it features fifty stories of machinery to power a functioning park, while there seems to be a functioning "natural" park flourishing right below it.

So far removed from basic common sense (5, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875849)

Land on Manhattan remains some of the most valuable land on the planet. And he wants to use it for the most land-intensive production imaginable? For the price of an acre on Manhattan, you could buy 100 acres in the Midwest, plus the equipment and personnel to operate it, plus transportation of the final product to NYC. That's the market trying to give you a hint that allocating Manhattan real estate to agriculture is not the most efficient thing to do.

Even more damning, the whole damned point of having a civilization is to allow a small minority of farmers to produce enough food for everyone so that the rest of us can do things like engineering, science, art, law, politics, philosophy and all those other things that many of us find more satisfying than toiling in a field.

Disclosure: I have a garden in my backyard and I enjoy growing food in it. I don't, however, delude myself into thinking that it's anything other than a hobby -- one that is not economically sound (in the sense that I can buy the finished products much cheaper than I can grow them myself). Since I have to bring in soil, water and fertilizer, I'd be lucky if the whole thing was carbon neutral.

Re:So far removed from basic common sense (-1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876065)

Land on Manhattan remains some of the most valuable land on the planet. And he wants to use it for the most land-intensive production imaginable? For the price of an acre on Manhattan, you could buy 100 acres in the Midwest, plus the equipment and personnel to operate it, plus transportation of the final product to NYC. That's the market trying to give you a hint that allocating Manhattan real estate to agriculture is not the most efficient thing to do.

You're making an implicit assumption that the acre in Manhattan is somehow intrinsically more valuable than the one in the midwest, which it isn't. It's only more expensive because someone is willing to pay 100 times more for it. For your reference, at one point, the entire island (~14,694 acres) was worth sixty guilders ($1000 in modern times), or ~$14 per acre. Compare that to $2,000~$5,000 per acre in the midwest, and probably $2,000,000~$5,000,000 in Manhattan today. Ironically, the midwestern acreage is more beneficial to the world, as it actually uses the land to produce food and raw materials. All Manhattan produces is financial derivatives, economic collapses, and porkulus bills, and it doesn't even really require the land, since a lot is done electronically.

Re:So far removed from basic common sense (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876119)

He's not assuming anything except that people are willing to pay more for Manhattan land than mid-west land... Which isn't much of an assumption since people do it every day.

Re:So far removed from basic common sense (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876221)

He's not assuming anything except that people are willing to pay more for Manhattan land than mid-west land... Which isn't much of an assumption since people do it every day.

People pay far more for something than its value all the time. It doesn't make it any more valuable. I'm sure some goober might buy a penny for a nickel, but in the end, his penny is still worth a penny.

Re:So far removed from basic common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876435)

While what you say is true, it's completely off point and attempting to argue semantics. And I know you know this too, so I'm not going to bother pointing out the meaning of his post, rather than just calling you out for being an asshat for the sake of arguing.

Clearly (1)

Technopaladin (858154) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876067)

They build these on the unused parts of Manhattan. The plan seems so clear- They bring in Dirt from New Jersey(its the Garden State so it has the best dirt) Water piped in from the Hudson Fertilzers...well Having been to New York I suspect the smell of acrid nitrogen rich fertilzers from the streets and alleys might somehow be harnessed.

Re:So far removed from basic common sense (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876243)

For the price of an acre on Manhattan, you could buy 100 acres in the Midwest, plus the equipment and personnel to operate it, plus transportation of the final product to NYC. That's the market trying to give you a hint that allocating Manhattan real estate to agriculture is not the most efficient thing to do.

Fair enough, but those things that increase our quality of life tend to be inherently inefficient. A workplace environment may demand high productivity from its workers, but good friendships require cutting lots of slack. You can't fully comprehend the meaning of such things until you spend 3 hours eating lunch in a house in the Italian countryside where the food was grown and harvested (or raised and slaughtered), on the same or neighbouring property as it has been done for hundreds of years. Upscale American urbanites, of course, refer to such things in a more trendy manner ("slow food", "buy seasonal and local", etc.)

People have written books on what efficiency (in the form of modern agrobusiness and consumerism) has brought us. I won't reiterate any of the conclusions. What I will point out is that there are large American cities where there an increasing amount of real estate dedicated to parks and open air environments, the rooftops of buildings are increasing covered with vegetation (Chicago is a good example), and paved-over urban space is re-allocated for community gardening. And, surprise, the people living there like it that way.

Re:So far removed from basic common sense (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876319)

> For the price of an acre on Manhattan, you could buy 100 acres
> in the Midwest, plus the equipment and personnel to operate it,
> plus transportation of the final product to NYC.

You're absolutely right - if your definition of efficiency is dollars, and if your work base comes from underpaid black/grey market laborers, and if the cost of fuel is artificially low.

> I have a garden ... I have to bring in soil, water and fertilizer

That's really cool you grow a garden. We have one too, that we grow the same way. Gardening is expensive because we have to buy seeds, soil, and fertilizer. In bygone times there used to be another way. There used to be a technology called composting, and a practice called saving seeds. Which worked pretty well for thousands of years. Unfortunately, like the Great Pyramids, this technology has been lost to the ages.

idea is redundant (1)

Arthurio (1392181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875895)

They already have those in China. They're called apartment buildings and they build them to grow chinese people pic [citystateunit.com] pic [flickr.com] new farms are built every day pic [ggpht.com]

TRIPE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26875925)

What a load of hooey.
Just KISS!

This isn't necessary (3, Insightful)

bdbolton (830677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26875959)

"By 2050 nearly 80% of the worldâ(TM)s population will reside in urban centers, and 109 hectares of arable land will be needed to feed them."

Assuming this quote is accurate, then that means we'll have plenty of land to grow crops on (because not as many people live in rural areas).

Re:This isn't necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876177)

no... the idea is that urban population is increasing at a faster absolute rate than rural population, so there will be MORE people in rural areas, just not as many more as there are in urban areas.

subsidize (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876099)

I thought we paid farmer not to plant crops because we have too many farmers.

If they were all to try to plant food and sell it none of them would be able to cover costs.

So how is this going to be cost effective?

Re:subsidize (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876309)

I'm not sure where you get your information, but in Canada farming is subsidized in many different ways. We pay significantly less property taxes, sales tax (25% of normal), and are eligible for grants, government-guaranteed loans, cash advances for impending crops, and other sources of money. This is in effort to make farming easier for us, and to encourage us to keep producing livestock, food, etc.

The number of farms is shrinking dramatically every year. I'm sure it's much the same in the States. The government definitely does not pay us to produce less.

Hmm (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876121)

My knowledge of topology might be somewhat limited, but don't plants require sunlight, and wouldn't a traditional horizontal farm receive a lot more sunlight per unit surface area than a vertical farm?

Re:Hmm (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876301)

It depends, different plants require different amounts of light, and remember, NYC is quite far north - there's a strong bias towards the south over light coming from directly above.

So you can put plants that like shade behind the full sun ones, even make up some of the difference with artificial lighting, especially if you're trying to grow extreme sun plants like tropical fruit bearers.

This skyscraper... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26876171)

is a drill that will pierce the heavens.

Cities are a drain. (1)

TenBrothers (995309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876173)

Why is it that city dwellers try to eliminate the countryside at every effort? A city is not a place to grow things.

Ah architecture school.. (3, Funny)

poity (465672) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876211)

the last resort of art school and engineering school dropouts.

 

/still in architecture school.. :o

Man that's ugly, and pretty damned impractical (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876263)

There's a really good reason most buildings are rectilinear - anything else is significantly more expensive to build. I love how these designers just think we'll magically come up with the ability to analyze, design and fabricate these types of structures. Have you even wondered why we don't all live in Gehry-inspired buildings? It's because, as interesting as they are to look at, they cost between 5 and 50 times as much per square foot of usable space to build. Now, I'm sure most Wall Street types, with annual salaries that look like my phone number, don't care how much their living space costs, but I work for a living and I just can't see multiplying my mortgage times 10 just so food that grows just great on a farm down the road can grow in the flat next to me.

Sure, you can hydroponic this and aeroponic that, but I'm still waiting for anyone to actually make a sustainable, profit generating business which operates in all the sectors of agricultural products. And make a city produce it's own food? You've got to be kidding me. It takes something like three acres of flat land to support a person on an ongoing basis (no, I don't have a citation). I'll give you that I'm off by an order of magnitude AND that you can get an order of magnitude better results by using hydroponics. You'd need to double to quadruple the space for every person (1300SF hydroponics per person vs less than 600SF per person for living). So now instead of increasing your mortgage/rent tenfold, you'll have to double or triple that. But hey, you'll get free food (without processing) for just 29 times what you currently pay for your mortgage, which probably comes out to only a few times your annual income. And you still haven't figured out _how_ to harvest and process that material in such a system.

Why can't they just call these science fiction studies? I hope the winner didn't expect a cookie.

more of a west coast thing (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26876475)

i could see that going over on the west coast, but it just wouldn't fit in in NYC.

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