Sep-Oct 2017


Space-Based Vertical Fish Farm As A Self-Sustained Urban Typology

by Alakesh Dutta

The productive and operational viability of vertical farming has thus far been largely restricted to green leafy vegetables. This vertical aquaculture farming project is one of the pioneering attempts at taking land-based fish farming vertical. This is significant as the main nutrient yield here is protein, which also has a higher economic value in comparison to green leafy vegetables. The success of this typology can considerably boost the planning for future urban food resilience, both in terms of productivity per unit land area (critical to dense urban developments) and nutritional value.

The design for this farm is anchored in two fundamental strategies:

• The purpose-engineered closed-system water reticulation system developed by the owner (Apollo Aquaculture Group) that makes vertical stacking of the fish raceways functionally possible.

• The systems approach to the planning of the farm that helps to create a self-sustained farming typology.

The planning is founded on a comprehensive integration of three main systems that are engaged by the farm: water, nutrients and energy. A systemic integration 
of these systems will lead to a scheme that creates a closed-loop farming eco-system. The flow chart shows the embeddedness of the systems in this design scheme, and depicts the flows and exchanges amongst them. The spatial design of the farm thereafter works towards enabling these exchanges, and the architecture is thus a facilitator of the system’s interconnections and coordinates their integration.

The role of water is paramount to this project. While the handling of water within the fish raceways itself is controlled by the engineered reticulation system (its operation being critical to the health and cultivation of fishes), it is the designed flow of water outside the fish tanks (within the remainder of the site) that creates the medium for the systemic exchanges to take place.

Expunged waste water from the fish tanks is channelled to the constructed wetlands. Bacteria and aquatic plants in these wetlands cleanse the water by feeding on the organic fish wastes it contains, which are laden with rich nutrients. The treated water is suitable for several non-potable uses, which include being circulated back into the fish tanks after additional mechanical purification. The water re-entering the fish raceways requires further treatment, including injecting it with specific bacteria that are essential for the breeding of the fish species. Another viable and simple use of the expunged water is hydroponics, which will be able to support the growth of green leafy vegetables with the nutrient-rich water.

Bioswales augment the system further by capturing and conveying surface run-off to the central wetland. This overall water system helps to reduce the demand for clean potable water in the fish tanks and the final volume of water that is discharged from the site into the sewers.

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