Touted to be the world’s first farmscraper, CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has unveiled its design plans for the 218 m high Jian Mu Tower. Located in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the international design firm will be blending architecture with urban agriculture in its design to incorporate a large-scale farm into its 51-story structure. The facade of the tower will be featuring a vertical hydroponic farm that would extend the entire height of the building, thereby producing crops that can feed 40,000 people a year. Additionally, Jian Mu Tower establishes a self-sustained food supply chain, encompassing the cultivation, harvest, sale and consumption of crops, all inside the same building.
CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati will be blending architecture with urban agriculture in its design to incorporate a large-scale farm into its 51-story structure.
Conceived for an international competition organized by the leading Chinese supermarket chain Wumart, Jian Mu Tower introduces a new kind of skyscraper where the natural and the artificial closely overlap. The design of the building makes it possible for the building’s tenants to cultivate, purchase and consume fresh vegetables and fruits directly within the tower. The tower offers 90,000 sqm of space across 51 levels. 10,000 sqm of space on its façade is dedicated to the cultivation of crops. The vertical hydroponic farm is expected to produce 270,000 kg of food per year, which is enough to cover the needs of roughly 40,000 people.
The tower’s facade will be featuring a vertical hydroponic farm that would extend the entire height of the building.
The name of the tower is derived from the mythical symbol of the jian mu tree which, in ancient Chinese folklore, connects heaven and earth. According to this traditional belief, heaven is round while the earth is square. Echoing this principle, the skyscraper’s rectangular base gradually morphs into a tubular form as it rises.
The tower offers 90,000 sqm of space across 51 levels, where 10,000 sqm of space on its facade is dedicated to the cultivation of crops.
“Small-scale urban farming is happening in cities all over the world – from Paris to New York to Singapore. Jian Mu Tower, however, takes it to the next level. Such an approach has the potential to play a major role in the design of future cities as it engages one of today’s most pressing architectural challenges: How to integrate the natural world into building design. In addition to producing food, the Jian Mu Tower’s farm helps with solar shading – a key issue in tall buildings,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Specializing in innovative approaches to agriculture, the Italian-based company ZERO has lent its expertise to make the tower’s farm optimize its produce from salad greens to fruits to aromatic herbs. Additionally, an AI-supported virtual agronomist is tasked with the farm’s day-to-day operations, managing irrigation, nutritional conditions and other matters.
The vertical hydroponic farm is expected to produce 270,000 kg of food per year, which is enough to cover the needs of roughly 40,000 people.
Other than the vertical farm, the tower’s natural and artificial elements work alongside one another in many other ways. Taking advantage of Shenzhen’s abundant precipitation in their sustainable irrigation system, the landscape terraces that promote biodiversity house a wide variety of flora including water lily, fern and lychee. Besides, the office workers within the tower will also be able to utilize the inner gardens for relaxation and social interaction. The gardens are double-height and integrated into the interior spaces, allowing tenants to feel immersed in a natural setting. The abundance of greenery on the building’s surface reduces solar irradiance in indoor areas and the need for air conditioning.
Project name: Jian Mu Tower
Firm: CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati
Creative lead: Italo Rota
CRA Team: Carlo Ratti, Antonio Atripaldi (partner in-charge), Chiara Borghi, Mario Daudo, Rui Guan and Chenyu Xu
Structures, MEP and facade: ARUP
Local architect: Lapis Bureau
Hydroponic farming system: ZERO
Landscape design: Gross Max
Media facade and contents: iart, studio for media architectures
Design consultant: South China University of Technology, Politecnico di Torino
Renderings: Gary di Silvio, Pasquale Milieri and Gianluca Zimbardi (CRA graphic team)