Gallery: Soaring Seawater Farms for a Self-Sufficient Dubai


Dubai is a burgeoning metropolis surrounded by seawater that relies on imports for nearly all of its food. Addressing the region’s lack of natural resources, Italian architects Studiomobile have conceived of a Seawater Vertical Farm that draws upon local resources to create a sustainable source of food for a cleaner, greener and more self-sufficient Dubai. Envisioned as a spire that branches off into soaring sky-gardens, the design uses seawater to create an ecosystem conducive to growing crops amid the clouds.

Agriculture consumes nearly 70% of the world’s fresh water, which leaves many areas of the earth subject to shortages of this essential resource. Saltwater, on the other hand, is available in abundance around the globe, which makes sustainable desalination an enticing option for producing potable water for food production. Dubai’s lack of fertile soil and fresh water make it a perfect candidate for seawater farms, which stand to cut down on the emirate’s regular truckloads of goods while significantly reducing the region’s oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions.

Based upon the design of Seawater Greenhouses in Oman and the Gran Canarias, Studiomobile‘s ‘Seawater Vertical Farm’ utilizes seawater to cool and humidify the air that ventilates multiple greenhouses, while sunlight distills the saltwater into fresh water to provide life for thousands of plants. Whereas most of today’s desalination plants rely on costly and energy-intensive boiling and pumping, the Seawater Vertical Farm works in a passive manner, continuously cycling through 3 phases for a year-round supply of food.

In the first phase, incoming seawater is evaporated to condition the air of the tower, creating a humid environment that is perfect for growing crops. Next, the air is pushed out of the greenhouse and through another evaporator that mixes the humid air with warm air from the outside. In the third phase, the hot humid air is pushed upwards due to the stack effect. On the way up, fresh water condense around tubes of cool seawater and as drops accumulate they fall into a collection tank which then waters the crops. In a city known its arid landscape and experimental architecture, the Seawater Vertical Farm offers an enticing source of sustainable agriculture, although its implementation may be quite a ways off granted the current economic climate.

+ Studiomobile

Via designboom


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  1. jakes March 31, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    i think they should incorporate a type of urban farming that 99problems is doing. it would help out the dry land and the poor class in the country

  2. dennis walker March 12, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    converting saltwater to fresh doesnt require elaborate skytowers. Dubai\’s concern for ecology is reflected in the hotels built atsea in the shape of a palm island, how did that effect the environment? How much would it cost to study their arid land through the science of composting and other soil rebuilding practices? Seems like opening a water bottle with a sledge hammer. TY dennis

  3. davidwayneosedach March 12, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Thank god Dubai is forward thinking enough to invest in this very green proposal. If mistakes are made along the way they will be corrected.

  4. Daryan March 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    This is an absurd idea given that just across the Persian Gulf there are millions of hectares of land available for Seawater Greenhouses which don’t need millions of dollars to be placed on extremely expensive towers. Transporting the food is a short couple of hours if modern vessels are used.

    The Seawater Greenhouse is a brilliant technology that unfortunately has not found the badly needed support it requires, primarily because fresh water is subsidized in the Persian Gulf region, but not in Iran.

    I’ve been working to set up Seawater Greenhouses in Iran and if any of your readers are interested in getting involved they can reach me through my company Web site:

    Daryan Rezazad

  5. crackgerbal March 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I like the idea of using salt water to obtain fresh water, but from the images it appears that the fresh water would just fall on the plants like rain. There was no mention of incorporating aeroponics or even hydroponics into this system, but i think it would be much more efficient if either one was used.

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