Beginning with the simplicity of one dish – mushroom gnocchi – the proposed Vertical Farm is a highly functional factory, growing mushrooms, potatoes and herbs, that also serves as a ‘landmark’ public space for the Central Highlands Region.
The basis of this design are the ‘Ideal City of Chaux – Forge a Canons’ and the ‘Siheyuan Courtyard House’ typologies, which have been adapted to fit the spaces required for a successful Smart Farm. The proposed precinct includes nearly 26,000 sqm of vertical growing space, as well as staff areas and a large public zone. The floorplan centres around four large courtyards, which are an ‘oasis’ within the harsh outback landscape, with additional green hideaways located within the public and staff modules.
The main feature of the farm is the observation tower which acts as an information centre as well as a viewing platrform. The scultural tower helps establish the Smart Farm as a landmark within the Emerald region, with generous views of the vast surrounding landscape opening up from the upper deck. It is a noticable feature along the Capricorn Highway, which entices visitors to turn in and explore. The tower can additionally be used as a vantage point by local fire and SES crews to monitor bush fire or flood events, allowing the precinct to give back to the local community.
The building modules are wrapped in a second-skin facade of polycarb or timber. The separated facade helps shade the buildings, created spaces that are both inside and outside. The secondary facade is raised to a 2.2m datum which continues the line of the horizon, allowing the building to seamlessly blend into the bare landscape when viewed from afar. The tower emerges from the building like a lone tall eucalyptus tree in the middle of a field.
The idea of a transparent farm-to-table operation, means that the public can see how their food is grown and taste it locally at the cafe on site. The inclusion of a large public space is thought to increase public interest in vertical farming processes, as well as generate additional income for the precinct.
Additionally, as part of a different project we were asked to assess the climatic comfort of the office part of this precinct.