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Rooftop Fish: The Future of Urban Farming?

| Monday May 7th, 2012 | 2 Comments

We have all heard of urban farms and rooftop gardens and even rooftop farms, but a rooftop fish farm might be a radical new concept. The prototype design is Globe/Hedron and it “is a bamboo greenhouse designed to organically grow fish and vegetables on top of generic flat roofs.”

The design is based on the aquaponic farming technique: the fish feeds the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish. The system is designed by Antonio Scarponi/Conceptual Devices, who is collaborating on the project with the Zurich-based group UrbanFarmers.

According to Scarponi, this system can produce 100 kilograms of fish and 400 kilograms of vegetables. This means that four families of four members each can be fed throughout the year. In the hot season, vegetables like cucumber, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and melons can be grown. In the cold season, vegetables like Swiss chard, carrots, peas, broccoli, and cabbage can be grown.  All kinds of fish species can be grown like tilapia, salmon, and trout.

The structure is designed like a dome and the heavy fish tank rests on the frame of the greenhouse and its weight is redistributed to a larger surface area. It is designed so that the water is pumped through a bio-filter from the fish tank to filter the nutrient rich feces, which is transformed into plant nutrients by bacteria.

This water from the tank is pumped into the upper grow bed. Then, using gravity, the water trickles all the way down to the lower grow beds. The cleaned water is then pumped back into the tank. This ‘loop’ makes is easy for the system to run on minimal resources.

The farm can be housed on roofs without any structural or building adaptation.  The structure itself is built with organically farmed bamboo, which makes it completely biodegradable and sustainable.

In addition to being able to grow vegetables and fish, the dome can be equipped with PV panels and cooling turbines. The basic structure can be adapted with greenhouse panels or insulating panels to suit various environments and weather conditions. The grow beds can be installed inside in different configurations according to cost, environmental needs and insulation. The whole dome can be dismantled and packed inside the tank for easy shipping.

Scarponi hopes that the globe will be energy self-sufficient, which would reduce operating costs. He also wants to sell it from the price of a small car which would make it more affordable to a lot more people. Although this system is still in the concept stage, the probability of it becoming a reality is quite high. If it does, then not only will it make food production more sustainable but also more local and seasonal.Image Credit: Top Right: Picture of the Globe/Hedron, Bottom: How the system works. Antonio Scarponi/Conceptual Devices ©


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