Humankind has consumed more than half of the available petroleum resources, and all estimates expect that our oil supply will be depleted within the next 100 years. Long before that, however, oil prices will sky-rocket, and we will be forced to adapt to a way of life that is essentially oil-free.
With the increased price of petroleum, traditional farming methods will become ineffective. Currently, crops are grown on a massive scale at a remote location, and then delivered world-wide. The transportation, growing and harvesting processes are all reliant on the cheap presence of oil. In addition to the unnecessarily large amount of petroleum these processes unavoidably consume, traditional farming is also stricken with problems of pesticide residue, genetically-engineered suicide seeds, huge amounts of potable water usage, and hazardous run-off that threatens habitats.
All these factors aside, farming is very lucrative to large scale companies that distribute crops. However, there will be a tipping point within the next century wherein it will become ineffective to ship cheap goods around the world. For farming, this means that everything will have to become local. This is a problem for areas of the world that are infertile, subject to climate fluctuations, or areas that are federally protected. Without the proper planning, this simple fact could result in famines around the globe.
The Los Angeles area will be among the biggest sufferers of famine due to its high population and relatively low food production. Hydroponics represents a solution to this problem and an end to the traditional farm. With hydroponics, we are not reliant on the fertility of soil, or fluctuations of climate. Its biggest advantage however, is that it only relies on the availability of light, and water. Therefore, with hydroponics, crops can be produced anywhere, and when they are available for purchase on location, the carbon footprint drops to zero.
The Whittier Farmless Market is designed to use as little energy as possible. Four sub-terranean reinforced concrete shell structures use the earth’s mass to mitigate temperature fluctuations while providing natural light and ventilation through roof openings. The support building is elongated about the East-West axis in order to maximize southern exposure. In addition to providing ideal exposure, the building is proportioned such that passive, cross ventilation can cool the building year-round. The aesthetics of the structure are provided solely by a system of hydroponics that wraps the exterior and shades the facades.
Status: Competition Entry
Location: Whittier, CA, US