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.