SPARK Architect’s aim is to generate discussion about the many potentials that can emerge from the mixing of two typically separate realms. The concept taps into the political and social zeitgeist of Singapore with a bold vision for sustainable city development and a powerful social message. Home Farm was the winner of the Experimental-Future Category at the World Architecture Festival in 2015.
The question of how to support and accommodate a rapidly ageing population confronts many nations in Asia. In Singapore, for example, a substantial demographic shift is underway. By 2030, one in five Singapore residents will be aged 65 years and over (up from 6 per cent in 1990). The swelling proportion of seniors will place significant demands on social, economic and infrastructural systems.
Achieving a secure food supply for growing city populations is an equally pressing challenge for rapidly urbanising Asian nations. This challenge is keenly felt in Singapore, a small and fully urbanised city state without a hinterland. Currently, Singapore imports over 90 per cent of its food, and has in place strategies for the diversification of food sources and the boosting of local production through intensive agricultural technology.
The Home Farm concept allows seniors to live in a garden environment created by a vegetable farm, where they may also find employment. The concept introduces vertical aquaponic farming and rooftop soil planting to the realm of high-density and flexible housing that has been designed to cater to the needs and preferences of seniors. Residents may combat the financial stress that is often faced post-retirement by working part-time at the farm under the direction of a professional vertical farming implementation team. Facilities catered to the needs of an older population are provided in the lower levels of the development (and are also open to the public), while the housing is stacked above in a curvilinear terraced formation reminiscent of land contours.
“We designed this concept for Singapore,” says SPARK Director Stephen Pimbley, “but there is the potential for it to be applied in any location that would support the growth of leafy green vegetables on building facades and rooftops.” He continues, “We are keen to see this project materialise at some point in the future. The concept is a realisable solution to real and pressing problems faced by many of the world’s growing cities.”
The gardening activity would offer numerous benefits beyond personal income generation, including community connectivity and the promotion of health. Simultaneously, beyond boosting the resiliency of Singapore’s food supply, the production of food in the heart of the city could provide a platform for community education, help lower Singapore’s high carbon footprint by closing the gap between producers and consumers, and contribute to the perpetuation of Singapore’s ‘City in a Garden’ vision in a productive capacity.
The environmental sustainability and efficiency of Home Farm would be enhanced by proposed features such as the collection of rainwater for use in the aquaponic system, and the use of plant waste for energy production. The concept demonstrates SPARK’s commitment to the goals of the Singapore Government’s S$1.5 billion Sustainable Singapore Blueprint through the promotion of a vibrant, liveable and sustainable city, and an active community.
SPARK believes it is the duty of the architectural profession, through its capacity to imagine and shape both the city and the ways in which we live, to contribute to overcoming the challenges of urban life. Home Farm is the second conceptual project to emerge from SPARK’s Singapore studio this year, following the Solar Orchid floating hawker centre. Home Farm is part of a growing portfolio of research and visionary design being undertaken by the studio in the interests of imagining untried responses to real urban problems.
SPARK is an award-winning international design studio that creates distinctive buildings for our clients and great places for people. We focus on architecture’s potential to contribute positively to the experience of the city while addressing the pragmatic issues that govern each project. We work with the bold yet common-sense vision of enlarging the spaces of the city into our buildings, and of unfolding our buildings into the city – creating opportunities for layered experiences and engaging places.
Our celebrated designs emerge from a detailed analysis of context, brief, and typology. We work synergistically, fostering our numerous perspectives on culture and varied professional experience to achieve rich, integrated design solutions that consider the impact on all project stakeholders. From our studios – in London, Shanghai, and Singapore – we have created and delivered projects in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, and Australia. Each one has its own unique spark and manifests our desire to tackle and deliver on challenges that reflect the key global imperative of attaining a sustainable, life-improving environment for all.
SPARK’s award winning projects include Clarke Quay in Singapore, the Shanghai International Cruise Terminal (MIPIM Asia Awards 2011, “Best Mixed-Use development” Award), the Starhill Gallery Kuala Lumpur and the Raffles City projects in Ningbo and Beijing.