Organic urban agriculture, renewable energy and beautiful landscaping come together at the Thammasat University Rooftop Farm (TURF), Asia’s largest organic rooftop farm that spans 236,806 square feet. Bangkok-based landscape architecture and urban design firm LANDPROCESS designed the productive landscape in response to both the Thai capital’s sprawling urbanization and rising food and water scarcity concerns amid the climate crisis. Equipped with solar panels that produce up to 500,000 watts per hour and rainwater harvesting systems for irrigation, TURF grows more than 40 edible species of crops, including rice, indigenous vegetables, fruit trees and herbs.
Located in the Bangkok subdistrict Bowon Niwet, TURF’s zigzagging terraced design that merges the earthwork of rice terraces with modern green roof technology takes inspiration from traditional agricultural practices found across Southeast Asia. The cascading terraces not only help organize the different crop areas but are also engineered to absorb, filter and slow down rainwater runoff 20 times more effectively than conventional concrete rooftops. The runoff collects at the bottom of the landscape in four retention ponds capable of holding over 3 million gallons of water total.
TURF can provide up to 80,000 meals — 20 tons of organic food — each year for the 40,000 campus residents. The campus canteen collects food waste and uses it for compost on the urban farm. TURF also serves as an educational resource for the university and hosts year-round workshops on sustainable agriculture for students and the surrounding community. Social spaces are also built into the landscape, from intimate seating areas to a terraced amphitheater with universal outdoor access to the second-floor auditorium.
“As lush green turns to dry brown, TURF is a realistic, but hopeful solution, putting urban dwellers back in tune with agricultural practices,” a press release states. “Lessons on Thai agriculture, landscape and native soil are embedded into TURF, educating future leaders to adapt and embrace climate challenges, by building sustainable cities for generations to come.”
Photo credit: Panoramic Studio / LANDPROCESS