Explainer: How vertical farming works

  • Dickson Despommier / Verticalfar

    Though initial prototypes for vertical farms would likely rise two or three stories at most, Columbia University researcher and vertical farm champion Dickson Despommier eventually imagines industrial-looking, transparent and square buildings rising up to 30 stories within urban settings. A number of international designers and architects have gone even further with their concepts (like this idea from Paris-based Pierre Sartoux), taking the basic idea of a vertical farm in a range of imaginative new directions. — Bryn Nelson, msnbc.com contributor

  • Vertical 'commune'

    Dickson Despommier / Verticalfar

    Designed by Waimond Ip, this vertical farm of the future would include a "commune" of buildings housing a school and prefabricated accommodations as well as growing areas and energy-producing wind turbines arranged along a tower.

  • Cylindrical tower

    Dickson Despommier / Verticalfar

    Designed by Chris Jacobs, cylindrical towers outfitted with rooftop solar panels could be built as one unit or grouped in clusters to maximize food output.

  • Sky Farm

    Dickson Despommier / Verticalfar

    Designed by Gordon Graff, this concept of a vertical farm for downtown Toronto features 58 angled floors and 8 million square feet of growing space.

  • Living Tower

    Dickson Despommier / Verticalfar

    The Living Tower, designed by Paris-based architect Pierre Sartoux, features ramped floors and electricity-producing wind turbines on the roof.

  • Agro-Wanus

    Dickson Despommier / Verticalfar

    Designed by Andrew Kranis of Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, the futuristic helical Agro-Wanus vertical farm would be located within a reclaimed salt marsh in Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal area.

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