The Vertical Farm
Imagine a five-story farm in the middle of a city! This innovative conceptual design developed by Growing Power and The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc. will expand and improve Growing Power’s greenhouse and aquaponics operations currently spread over a two-acre site located in the City of Milwaukee. Five stories of south-facing greenhouse areas will allow production of plants, vegetables, and herbs year-round. Expanded educational classrooms, conference spaces, demonstration kitchen, food processing and storage, freezers, and loading docks will further support Growing Power’s expanding mission as a local and national resource for learning about sustainable urban food production. Administrative offices, volunteer spaces, and staff support areas will be closely connected to greenhouse and educational areas to allow for active observation and participation.
“The decline in arable land, ongoing global climate change, water shortages and continued population growth could change our view of traditional farming from soil-based operations to highly efficient greenhouses or urban farms.” – ALLEN WASHATKO, TKWA
Cast-in-place tilt-up concrete panel construction will provide an affordable, energy efficient, structurally stable, and long-lasting building shell appropriate for intensive farming operations. The vertical farming concept can also be applied to the re-use of abandoned industrial buildings often found in urban centers. Several existing historic greenhouses will be preserved on-site.
The Outdoor Market
In its current facility, Growing Power operates a small retail store to sell produce, meat, worm castings, and compost to the community. The new Vertical Farm will expand and improve the year-round indoor retail space selling fresh, nutritious, and affordable food. In addition, the Vertical Farm will create an active outdoor market area and become a community gathering place for work, learning, and social activities.
Water, Nutrients, + Energy
Water is an important part of daily life at Growing Power. Water fills the hydroponic tanks for raising fish and is essential for growing a myriad variety of plants, vegetables, and herbs. A closed loop of water and nutrients circulates throughout the building; fish wastes are used as food for plants, while plants clean and filter the water for fish. Rainwater falling on the building is collected and stored to support the system.
Energy flows throughout the building are carefully designed. The dramatic sloped surface of the building absorbs sunlight and takes advantage of convective currents created by solar heating. Heat generated by the sun is stored in thermal mass in the ground under the building and used to warm the building in winter. Roof-mounted photovoltaic panels and thermal solar panels will generate a portion of the building energy needs. Introduction of natural daylight will reduce energy use.