Our client’s brief was to redevelop a former retail store into a mixed-use development and tower block featuring residential, retail, and office space. The project was to be designed following the principles of Biophilia, promoting sustainability in terms of environmental impact and economic viability.
Biophilic architecture refers to the adaptation or design of a building in conjunction with the environment. Elements for biophilic design include environmental features, natural shapes and forms, natural patterns and processes, and light and space. Incorporating Biophilia into building design serves to minimise energy consumption, conserve natural resources, and reduce pollution. A project of this scale had not previously been developed in the UK.
Our client incorporated greenhouses at roof level to create a vertical urban farm system, the largest of which would be serviced by an aquaponics system designed to produce up to 4.5 tonnes of fruits and vegetables per year. The aquaponics system, created through the use of an aquaculture room located at the base of the tower, formed a continuous cycle where waste produced by the fish would add nutrients to the water and be transported via pumps and pipes to the greenhouse to feed the greenhouse plants; the water would then be filtered and recirculated back into the system.
Furthermore, CO2 would be drawn from stale office air and pumped into the greenhouses to increase yield. Our client undertook a study in conjunction with a university renowned for sustainable aquatic research to determine how to integrate complementary high-tech solutions and scale the aquaponic system up to work effectively in urban environments; this part of the project represented a whole new area of research and practice that had not previously existed of this scale before or within the diverse context of a mixed-use development.
The project represents a radical and innovative change to urban design, the first of its kind in the UK, providing an effective template to transform city architecture.