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Skyhigh Food Farms For Future Cities Are Ready To Rise

Imagine stepping out of your highrise apartment into a sunny, plant-lined corridor. You take the lift to your office, passing paddy fields and one of the many gardens housed in the glass edifice that not only heats and cools itself, but also captures rainwater and recirculates domestic waste as plant food.

No, this is not the set for a futuristic movie. It is the design of Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut for a 132-floor "urban farm" - the answer, he believes, to a healthier future for the estimated six billion people who will live in cities by 2050.

With food, water and energy sources dwindling, the city of the future will have to be a self-sufficient "living organism", said the 36-year-old. "The city of tomorrow will be dense, green and connected. The goal is to bring agriculture and nature back into the urban core." Each building, he said, must be a "self-sufficient, mini-power station".

Callebaut's solution is the 'Dragonfly' - a design for a massive, twin-towered, "vertical farm" on New York's Roosevelt Island. From each tower springs a large, glass-and-steel wing, so that the edifice resembles the insect after which it was named. The draft structure includes areas for meat, dairy and egg production, orchards, meadows and rice fields along with offices and flats, gardens and public recreation spaces.

Energy is harvested from the sun and wind, and hot air is trapped between the building "wings" to provide heating in winter. In summer, cooling is achieved through natural ventilation and transpiration from the plants. Plants grow on the exterior shell to filter rain water, which is captured and mixed with liquid waste from the towers, treated organically and used as fertilizer.

And at the base of the colossus: A floating market on the East River for residents to sell their organic produce. Callebaut has also drafted the design for a floating city that will house refugees forced from their homes by climate change.
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