Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Vertical Aquaponic Farm
Matthew Humphreys

Second Prize Winner
Site: Singapore
Institution: University of Nottingham

Competition: CTBUH 3rd Annual Student Competition - 2014 Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism

Interior Perspective
Overall View of Model
Top View of Model
Environmental System and Exploded Axon Diagrams
Structure and Ventilation Diagram
Ground and Floor Plans

Vertical Aquaponic Farm

The city-state of Singapore is highly dependent on imports for feeding its growing population, with 97% of all food coming from abroad, and just over 1% of the total landmass of the country being devoted to agriculture. In addition, Singaporeans consume 100,000 tonnes of fish annually, with only 4% coming from local aquaculture.

This project looks to promote and explore the very real potential of vertical farming within the urban context as a solution to this problem.

The project is situated directly above the MRT station of Tanjong Pagar, Singapore. This is directly within the Central Business District of the country, and being above a busy MRT station has enormous footfall.

Conceptually the project its not a completely introverted site specific design, but looks at the idea of a modular design that can be modified to suit varying sites across the country. It is seen as a prototype for a new urban vision for Singapore; a country which already invests in greening its urban habitat. Many of these towers could be scattered over the island to produce sustainable agriculture and aquaculture for their local community.

The design itself consists of an elongated tower, with the longest sides facing east-west for maximum solar exposure to promote growing. At the northern and southern ends, apartments are located for both the local community to be able to engage with the building and its technology as well as for the building operatives or ‘farmers’ themselves. The central part of the tower consists of an ETFE-clad atria, housing an Aquaponic growing system for the production of fish and food. The technology of this production is a closed loop cycle whereby the waste from the fish provides nutrients for the plants by bacteria breaking down the ammonia into nitrates. The plants filter the water providing oxygen for the fish as well as off-cuts of the plants being fed to the fish. 

Through a process of up-selling the building offers a architectonic fish-smoking facility which extends the full height of the building providing smoked fish to sell at market.

Structurally, the building is broken down into two core towers which house the apartments and building services; with the central full-height atria, where the growing occurs, being spanned on a steel lattice grid-shell structure. This primary structure also holds a secondary dia-grid structure that supports the ETFE cushions.

The tower is also lifted off the ground on large composite structural legs, which bridge over the MRT line running underneath the site. Due to over shadowing from neighbouring buildings these lower levels are not suitable for growing. This in turn opens up the ground floor interface to be used as a vibrant shaded food market.