vertical garden

Feeding the cities: GreenBelly, the new vertical vegetable garden project

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Spanish architects and French agricultural engineers present a project that could well change the future of big cities: growing vegetables along the walls. They are converting blind walls into vertical vegetable gardens in the most ecological way possible using recycled materials and organic waste from the neighbourhood. 
 
O
n knows it since the philosopher Alain Roger (1) or the famous architectural achievements of Frank Lloyd Wright... (2) or Gilles Clément, Michel Desvigne, ..., architecture and landscape aim to enhance and stage the space, with the same objective: to design and improve the living environment.

All cities are full of windowless walls, vertical spaces that are useless.

We knew about the craze of roofs and terraces for the new urban vegetable gardens, the Vertical vegetable garden for balconies, here is a new type of vegetable garden, to the assault of vertical walls and blind surfaces of buildings: the GreenBelly project. It is led by the architect Alex Losada with the company AVL Studio, and aims to convert urban residual spaces into productive centres, while increasing the number of green spaces and improving social cohesion. City dwellers can grow their vegetables and salads on the horizontal floors of a simple scaffolding structure along a blind wall, where everything is recycled or recyclable. 

 
 
The water and nutrient supply for these "vertical" vegetable gardens is free because they use rainwater, sunlight and compost from the organic waste in the neighbourhood. In large, densely populated cities, pollution, sedentary lifestyles and access to food rich in highly processed products are commonplace. It is becoming necessary to reverse the trend: growing fruit and vegetables locally and reconnecting existing architecture with nature is a need not only for the inhabitants of these large cities but also for the environment.
 
"With GreenBelly, we propose a simple, sustainable and small-scale project, recycling spaces, materials and resources available in the city. GreeenBelly has the potential to make cities cleaner and greener, to provide food to people in need or to teach children about the origin of food. »
 
The aim of the installation is to reduce the distance from field to plate: with only 35 m2 of floor space, a six-storey garden can produce up to 6400kg of vegetables per year and generate 162 m2 of green space in the middle of the city. In addition, the GreenBelly garden provides a place where local residents can get together and share their gardening knowledge and teach the younger ones.
Organic, seasonal and locally produced salads can be sold at an affordable price to neighbours and passers-by, at local restaurants or grocery stores, or distributed to charities to feed people in need. The cost and pollution associated with the transport, storage and packaging of these foods is virtually nil, given the proximity of the production site to the place of consumption.  
 
"It's a sustainable and low-cost project: we use materials that are very accessible and common in big cities such as scaffolding and pallet wood, as well as organic waste from the neighbourhood to create compost and fertilizer for the plants in the garden. »
 
The scaffolding structure allows flexibility to adapt to any type of facade, making it a low cost modular system. Assembly is quick, simple and clean, as it does not require any structural work. Each module is a kind of production cabin organized in such a way as to optimize the yield of the garden at an affordable price.
The modules are assembled like pieces of Lego, to form the vertical garden. It can be disassembled, enlarged or reduced in width or height as desired. Several options of use are possible. One possibility is that each module can be rented out individually to local residents for their personal use.
 
 
In another model, the garden can be managed more centrally by a few people and the production of the entire plant wall sold to local residents or businesses, or distributed free of charge by charities. A final option is to install a GreenBelly garden on the wall of a school, hospital, retirement home or office building: this can help children, employees or the elderly to reconnect with nature, feel productive, learn to garden and be more physically active.
 
To build is to collaborate with the earth: it is to put a human mark on a landscape that will be forever changed by it.
Marguerite Yourcenar " Memories of Hadrian "
 
Could GreenBelly thus reconcile architecture and nature, following the example of French architect Édouard François, who has created surprising forms of ecological housing in major real estate projects? (3) ? This could bring a triple benefit to the modern city: ecological - by increasing green space and biodiversity; social - by enabling cohesion within the neighbourhood; and economic - by recycling residual space and materials to produce food locally at lower cost.
Its inventors are convinced that this project can help make the city greener and healthier and that GreenBelly can become an essential part of the sustainable urban landscape. 
 
With this project, however, there is a concern for aesthetics: scaffolding as an urban vegetable garden? Transparency, extrapolation, fusion, imitation, camouflage, imbrication, metamorphosis, support and insertion, ... these are the new objectives of some architects today. Nature and architecture blend, sometimes merge, for a harmonious and environmentally friendly conciliation. Do not forget that the awareness of the preservation of natural resources allows the permanent search for new materials and new designs where man tries to blend in with nature, but also with the city. 
 
 
If you are interested in the GreenBelly project, you will find all the information on the site www.greenbelly.org and to participate in the fundraising campaign the link is the following: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1903306293/greenbelly-vertical-urban-garden?
 
(1) "The entire history of the Western, as well as the Far Eastern, landscape shows this clearly: the landscape is first and foremost the product of a perceptive operation, i.e. a socio-cultural determination" (Roger A., 1997).
(2) Villa "Fallingwater" in Pennsylvania (USA)
(3) The M6B2 Tower in Paris and the Vegetable Tower in Nantes are astonishing proposals combining poetry, biodiversity and architecture.
 
 

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