Design of "Vertical" Greenhouses

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General Info:

Greenhouses provide us with great benefits, for instance, growing crops in extreme climates or in such regions where soils are not suitable for farming. For the first time this idea was mentioned in the Ancient Rome, when Roman engineers made a stone room with semitransparent roof to grow crops and protect them from scorching sun and severe storms. Several centuries have passed and the concept of the greenhouse changed radically: walls and roof became transparent, computer controls irrigational systems and climate control can automatically choose suitable air temperature and humidity. Moreover, the design has also changed; nowadays it is preferred to build oval greenhouses with dome-like roofs because they permit light through much easier than ordinary greenhouses with traditional roof tops. (Sky Greens, 2011) Singapore designers turned the design of greenhouse upside down and won National Development’s R&D Award back in 2011 (Merit Award). They made it vertical and it has several positive aspects: it can be put in the center of the city, takes less area on the ground and does not spoil the futuristic design of the city. Moreover Singapore became pioneer city in researching and implementing this idea in real life.


EDITT Tower (Singapore)

The first project that appeared on blueprints was the EDITT Tower. It was proposed in 1998 and it skoked people by its extraordinary. The status of this project is “pending” now.

After proposing the EDITT Tower in 1998 the street life was brought to the upper levels trough wide landscaped ramps. These street activities were lined with these ramps (restaurants, observation decks, cafes, shops, stalls, performance spaces and etc.). However despite all these attractions that maved there, EDITT Tower was named as ‘hierarchy of ecosystems’. It provides living and comfort staying as for people, as for crops that can be grown there. The main purposes for this tower were: attract, provide comfort and increase biodiversity and organic mass, rehabitate ecosystems, preserve and conserve.

EDITT Tower (2008)

This tower is tremendously ‘eco-friendly’ in spite that it was designed in 1998, it was already designed, photovoltaic panels, rainforest collecting and recycling, grey water and waste separation and treatment systems to be built-in (refer to section ‘How it works’ to know more about each system)*. Suggested area to construct this building is in the center of Singapore.

EDITT Tower; overall view (2008)

EDITT Tower, Floor plan (2008)

Technical Data:

Climate for crops: Rainforst

Vegetation: Rainforest

Site area: 838 m2;

Total GFA (Gross Floor Area) 6,033 m2

Number of storeys: 26; Totals up to: 6,033 m2/ 26 = 232 m2 on each floor

Solar energy Self-Sufficiency: 39.7%

Sewage Recycling per annum: 15,190 m3

Water Self-Sufficiency: 55.1%

Embodied Energy**: 142,841.20 GJ/m2

**Embodied Energy - total primary energy (petroleum, energy, gas) consumed in Gigajoules on average 80 KG of CO2 per GJ.

Planted Areas: 63% of the building area. Totals up to: 6,033 m2 - 63% = 3,800 m2 are used for growing.

Type of the Building: Mixed-use Facilities, Offices.

Date: 1998

Designed by: T.R. Hamzah and Yeang.

Solaris Tower (Singapore)

The first project of the mixed-use building (including vertical farms) that was really built. TR Hamzah & Yeang designed Solaris in 2008, connecting nature and humanity. Several sky bridges connecting skygardens and offices between two towers. Even though that EDITT Tower consists of 26 floors, Solaris has only 15, however it has more space for landscaping, around 8,000 m2. Solaris is a re-designed model of the EDITT Tower. There are new implementions: the new architectural design called ‘Eco-Cell’ was placed on the top levels of the tower. The ‘Eco-cell’ is a combination of gardens with different crops inside that were placed on the top levels in combine with different restaurants and bars. Also the building has the ‘Solar Shaft’ that penetrates the upper floors and allows the daylight to come in. Likewise several sensors scan the amount of the daylight in the building and reduce the amount of energy for the lamps, when they don’t need it and the energy consumption decreases. ‘Naturally Ventilated Grand Atrium’ IS a engeneeres’ development that allows air to come in, not using ordinary ventilation systems. The operable glass roof protects the building from any element that can initially come in. Moreover According to Eco Infrastructure by T.R. Hamzah and Yeang (2009) ‘The building’s overall energy consumption will represent a reduction of over 33% compared to local precedents and the project is on target to exceed BCA’s** GreenMark Platinum rating, the highest possible certification granted by Singapore’s sustainable building benchmark’. The purpose of this building is the same as EDITT’s Tower: rehabitate ecosystems, preserve and conserve.

Solaris Singapore (2013)

Solaris Singapore Aerial View (2013)

Solaris Singapore Roof Garden (2013)

Solaris Singapore Lobby (2013)

Solaris Singapore Building Plan (2013)

Solaris Singapore Ecological Design Features (2013)

How it works:

The function of these ‘extraordinary’ stylish, ultra-modern vertical greenhouses does not differ from their counterpart. However, if you enter them you can find some differences: in some buildings the sunlight will be replaced with highly efficient LED lamps. They contain glass walls, and solar panels or wind turbines that make them stand out and boast sustainable energy sources. Crops are regularly irrigated and its ‘grey water’ is then recycled and used again. (How Stuff Works 2013) Moreover, methane, also called ‘biogas’ that is produced by plants, is collected and stored in special containers and used as alternative source of energy. Consequently ‘biogas’ and ‘grey water’ are not released into the atmosphere or dumped into the sea or the river.

What crops can be grown there?

According to Bright Agrotech of 2013, ‘plants range from traditional greenhouse crops like tomatoes and cucumbers to traditional Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) crops such as lettuce and salad greens.’ Moreover, if your greenhouse has aquaponic systems you can grow anything there. According to Vertical Food Blog 2013, the best crops for this type of greenhouse are the ones with very fast turns such as rosemary, basil, oregano, mustard greens, and lettuces, because they will lower your costs, increase returns and minimize liabilities.

How it can be implemented in the UAE?

From older times UAE is famous by its climate, however the soil is not acceptable to grow any type of crops there, moreover open-roof farms will not protect crops from sand storms. Likewise it can be a great chance to implement this idea to the UAE’s local local market. Moreover some fruits and vegetables that are brought from other countries can be reduced up to 40 percent. If tis economic strategy becomes effective, it will attract more customers to buy local products and make UAE become independent from other countries-suppliers.

Bruno G. (2012). Dave's Garden. A Short History of the Greenhouse. Available: [Accessed 18 December 2013].

Sky Gardens. (2011). Our Company. Available: [Accessed 18 December 2013]

Silverman J. Will there be farms in New York City's skyscrapers? How stuff works. Available: [Accessed 18 December 2013]

Robinson N. Vertical food blog. Available: [Accessed 18 December 2013] -

Solaris Singapore (images and Text).

EDITT Tower (images and text).