Architecture & food
What we do and why we do it...
What do Architecture and Food have to do with one another?
A&f is a specialist design consultancy dedicated to delivering high-tech urban agriculture projects and developing the architecture of Building Integrated Agriculture. We work with building owners, operators and developers to introduce appropriate models of food production into their buildings with a particular focus on the rooftop greenhouse model employing water-based growing techniques.
Our enquiry started from a genuine dissatisfaction at how undervalued urban roofscapes have become. If, like us, you have wondered why urban roofscapes are so underutilised, undervalued and unloved, you may have also considered how much more livable our cities would be if their outermost "skin" were planted or activated. This has been changing in recent years with growing demand for green roofs, solar PV and thermal plant and activated roof terraces but building owners either consider these to be a maintenance liability or a rental income opportunity cost.
A&f believe there is a huge amount of untapped value in our roofscape yet to be realised. Consider the following typical, London Georgian terraced block and post war high density housing block. Their pitched and flat roofscapes were built to divert rainwater and house mechanical plant. Exposed to sun, rain and temperature variation, their facing materials degrade and impose a maintenance liability and a risk of failure while generating no revenue. Our basic proposition is that rooftops be designed as a harvesting site rather than a defensive shield against valuable incident water and solar resources.
Incompatibilities between the living and growing functions of the resulting developments are design challenges that can be overcome in exchange for a wide range of benefits.
London comprises 1,572,000,000sqm of total Gross Area.
London's total roofscape is 200,000,000.
With 8,2 million inhabitants consuming on average 150g/person/day of fresh produce, this equates to 450,000,000kg of total annual fresh produce requirement.
40kg/sqm/annum is a comfortable, median productivity coefficient for a range of fresh produce items using a range of water based growing techniques.
In order to produce the target requirement, London would need to commit 5.6% of its roofscape to greenhoused hydroponic production.