In the early days of our country, land and water appeared to be everlasting natural resources. As the young country grew in size, land used for farming grew and became more established and freshwater was abundant. Eventually our population significantly increased resulting in the need to alter agriculture to monocultures to increase output. Our arable land is almost at capacity and population projections are anticipating a 62% increase in urban centers by 2050. Current irrigation accounts for 60% of freshwater use, and our water supply may become an expensive commodity. Given our current agriculture model and its demand on resources, are there opportunities to feed our population more effectively?
Within the rust belt cities of the US, industries have transformed steel, leather and other raw commodities into consumer goods in the past. At one time manufacturing was at the heart of the midwest, making it feel like a living breathing machine. Now these cores that were once vital to the functioning of the city have become a collection of derelict and deserted buildings. Through this thesis I will investigate how the post industrial landscape can be transformed into a place for agriculture in the 21st century. Instead of traditional soil based farming, a new vertical farm with increased output will become a source of production and manufacturing of food.
The site is located on a brownfield along the Milwaukee River in Milwaukee, WI. Traditionally this corridor was a heavy manufacturer of leather and steel. Much of the area is abandoned and a reminder of what once existed. This project looks at reusing existing infrastructure to create a stronger relationship with the past and new technologies. What impacts will vertical farming have on the surroundings, environmentally and socially? With decreasing supplies of water, how can this project become a demonstration on good water use strategies on site and in the building? Investigating these issues will be at the core of this thesis project.