With cities taking up more space on the planet than ever, communities are struggling to solve problems of food security, climate control, and how to make our concrete jungles look a little more…well, jungle-like.
These amazing inspirational farms show that urban farming can pave the way to real change in the future.
Cloud Mountain – Singapore
One of the centerpiece gardens of Singapore's Gardens by the Bay (see #9 below) is "Cloud Mountain," with a circular pathway ascending its nearly 140 feet. Not pictured on the backside is a waterfall. The entire structure is covered in epiphytes such as orchids, found in tropical mountain regions of Southeast Asia and South America.
Gardens at Marqueyssac – France
An oldie (1860s) but a goodie, these elegant gardens in the Dordogne region may be the world's original futuristic green space. Thousands of boxwood and cypress trees are planted in brilliantly trippy arrangements that boggle the mind.
Parkroyal Hotel – Singapore
This hyper-modern luxury hotel has over 15,000 square meters (and six levels) of sky gardens, which are cantilevered between blocks of hotel rooms and feature waterfalls and reflecting pools as well as local flora.
Acros Building – Fukuoka, Japan
15 stepped terraces contain an amazing 100,000-square-meter park perfect for lunch-break meditation sessions.
Vancouver Library Square – Vancouver
Library Square is a gorgeous compound featuring a beautiful rooftop garden and a massive glass atrium that helps blur the line between inside and outside.
Athenaeum Hotel – London
This eight-story vertical garden harbors a diverse ecosystem of plants, insects, flowers, and birds right in the heart of downtown London.
Nanyang University – Singapore
A sweeping, walkable green roof rolls across the five-story Nanyang University campus.
High Line Park – NYC
Built on an abandoned rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side, High Line is a one-of-a-kind urban space for strolling, jogging, and relaxing.
Gardens by the Bay – Singapore
A futuristic park / garden in Singapore, the entire area is built on reclaimed land.
Supertrees – Singapore
The Baobab-like "Supertrees" in Gardens by the Bay "mimic the ecological function of trees – photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy which can be used for some of the functions of the Supertrees, such as lighting, just like how trees photosynthesize; and collection of rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays, exactly like how trees absorb rainwater for growth. The Supertrees also serve air intake and exhaust functions as part of the conservatories' cooling systems."
Hotel Reina Roja – Cozumel, Mexico
Reina Roja's rooftop bar and pool is surrounded by plants, trees, and flowers in pots and planter boxes.
Public Farm 1 – Queens, NY
Technically an art installation celebrating urban farming, P.F.1 features a chicken coop and a juicing station. The entire installation is solar-powered.
Yau Ma Tei Farm – Hong Kong
HK Farms collaborates with local communities to build rooftop farms. A group of artists, designers, and farmers, they specifically encourage local produce to reduce carbon footprint.
Ngau Tau Kok Farm – Hong Kong
Another HK Farms mini-farm, this 4,000-square-foot rooftop in an industrial neighbourhood grows herbs and vegetables and opens to visitors on weekends for guided tours.
Garden of Cosmic Speculation – Scotland
If you put Gandalf, Timothy Leary, Willy Wonka, and the Mad Hatter into a room with their mind-altering substances of choice and told them to design a garden – this would be that garden! And it's only open one day a year so, yeah, plan accordingly.
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California Academy of Sciences – San Francisco
The massive green roof prevents two million gallons of rainwater from becoming storm runoff every year.
Chicago City Hall green roof – Chicago
This rooftop garden in the heart of downtown was planted in 2000 and is mostly prairie plants native to the Chicago region. It reduces heating and cooling costs for City Hall and retains 75% of an inch of rainfall before entering the storm drains.
Namba Parks – Osaka, Japan
Amidst the bustling urban sprawl of Osaka, the Namba Parks offers eight stories of natural sanctuary with groves of trees, clusters of rocks, cliffs, lawn, streams, waterfalls, ponds, and terraces.
Vancouver compost garden – Vancouver
Originally developed in 1982 to demonstrate how much food could be grown in a city yard, this pesticide-free farm turned its attention to composting in 1990. It's run by nonprofit group City Farmer.
Pasona 02 – Tokyo
Built in a series of converted bank vaults, this urban underground farm was developed to provide agricultural training to the unemployed or people interested in switching jobs. Because it is underground, Pasona 02 uses artificial lights and hydroponics to grow crops.
Vertical flower garden
Whether it's a living wall or a literal "tower of flowers," vertical gardening is gaining popularity in urban environments because of the way it maximizes space.
Vancouver Convention Center – Vancouver
The six-acre living roof atop Vancouver's convention center is filled with native plants and hosts several hives of honeybees, whose honey is used in the center's catering facilities.
O'Hare Airport garden – Chicago
Twenty-six towers hold over 1,100 plants in this vertical garden in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport rotunda. It uses no fertilizers or chemicals and nutrient solution is regularly cycled through the plants to prevent water evaporation waste.
Ballard Library – Seattle
Complementing the design sense of the neighborhood's traditional Scandinavian and maritime roots, the Ballard Library's green roof contains solar panels and 18,000 plantings.
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Comcrop – Singapore
A 6,000-square-foot urban farm on a downtown rooftop, Comcrop is one of the first farms in Singapore to use vertical farming and the first to use aquaponics, a combination of aquaculture (farming fish) and hydroponics.
Awaji Yumebutai – Hyogo, Japan
Built to restore the natural environment after earth from the area was removed to create manmade islands in Osaka Bay, Awaji Yumebutai is surrounded by native flora of Awaji Island.