Recently, there has been discussion around the futuristic concept of “vertical farming”: growing crops in skyscraper-style greenhouses in city centers.
Although there are many conceptual advantages to such a farm, there is at least one major difficulty: light. Obviously, only the topmost layer of a vertical farm would be practical to light with sunlight (Figure 1): lower layers would need to be lit with high-efficiency narrow-spectral-band LED lighting.
The “horizontal farm” is the best of both worlds: a structure that can fit in the footprint of a single office building, yet is capable of harnessing sunlight from dozens of adjacent city blocks.
The horizontal farm building is designed as follows: it consists of a vertical stack of floors, just like a traditional skyscraper. However, the floors are not directly connected to each other: instead, they hang from two vertical rails that can pivot to a horizontal orientation.
When the rails begin rotating to the horizontal position (Figure 2), each “farm floor” pivots in the opposite direction, thus maintaining a horizontal orientation at all times.
This bold new architectural design could be the future of locally-grown food!
PROS: Allows farming to harness the power of the sun directly, with no intermediate energy conversion (to LED lighting) required! Also has the advantage of providing valuable shade to city-dwellers who might otherwise get sunburns.