Cities get inventive in the fight against over-population

With forecasts warning that by 2050 the earth could have a population nearing nine billion, there's an urgent need for us to become more self-sufficient. All over the world, cities are trying out new ways to fight back the inevitability of over-population...

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Image from Belatchew Labs


One idea from Sweden has the potential to bug some people, but could revolutionise sustainable food production for its residents: the creation of InsectCity. 

Although minds may leap to the movie A Bug's Life, Switzerland residents are not to be too alarmed by the latest innovation by Belatchew Labs - who have created this project to help make the country more self-sufficient. 

With the creation of InsectCity and BuzzBuildings, the idea helps encourage insect manufacture, nourishing the environment in a farm-style structure. The building itself is actually inspired by the structure of insects themselves, encouraging people to eat the insects. 

Alright, so not immediately appetising. However, the statistics do tell us that protein production from insects is far more efficient than meat production, meaning if an idea like this went ahead, the city has the potential to be one of the most self-sufficient in Europe. As its official website says: "There are approximately 1,900 edible species of insects, and two billion of the world’s population already eat insects today." 

Perhaps the idea of insect farming has legs. Or perhaps it has too many...

Image from Belatchew Labs

Image from Belatchew Labs


Having just taken on the World Cup in a near-cinematic competition, Brazil have no time to rest, as they rejuvenate their hosting skills yet again for the 2016 Olympics.

With controversy surrounding the gargantuan preperations for their World Cup, Forbes reported that the past decade has actually been healthy for  the country's socioeconomic growth.

In light of being more self-sufficient, these concept designs from RAFAA Architecture & Design show one way the city could dominate solar energy innovation, with the Solar City Tower, a giant energy harvesting waterfall. 

In lieu of traditional landmarks, the general ethos for designing the Solar City Tower is to create "a message of a society facing the future", and "perhaps even become a symbol for the first zero carbon footprint Olympic Games". Indeed, with such a high octane event to take care of, the building produces its own energy to power up Rio's Olympic Village in preperation for the thousands of new visitors. As the pictures show, the building could even energy to revitalise itself too - becoming an 'urban waterfall' using recycled sea water. 

"It is less about an expressive, iconic architectural form; rather, it is a return to content and actual, real challenges for the imminent post-oil-era. Our project, standing in the tradition of 'a building/city as a machine', shall provide energy both to the city of Rio de Janeiro and its citizens while using natural resources." The website explains. 

The unconventional structure could certainly help make a splash at the next tournament...

"It is a return to content and actual, real challenges for the imminent post-oil-era. Our project, standing in the tradition of 'a building/city as a machine', shall provide energy both to the city of Rio de Janeiro and its citizens while using natural resources."


Back across the waters, another idea to make Sweden's more sustainable come from Plantagon; a group of architects and a greenhouse with a difference. 

With a number of designs, the company may have the technology to transform urban farming not just in their own city but across the world too. 

Plantagon, Illustration: Sweco

These buildings, nicknamed "plantascrapers" transport potted vegetables around the structures via conveyers; this then allows the buildings to take in waste surrounding them and renew it into useful energy.

As food grows from the plants, biogas emits from the soil, giving the plantascrapers renewable energy to both cool and light up their buildings, essentially running itself! 

Plantagon, Illustration: Sweco

Speaking to GOOD Magazine, the CEO Hans Hassle articulated Plantagon's vision well. 

​"Essentially, as urban sprawl and lack of land will demand solutions for how to grow industrial volumes in the middle of the city, solutions on this problem have to focus on high yield per ground area used, lack of water, energy, and air to house carbon dioxide."

The inventive nature of Plantagon's ideas has crossed over to China too; with the Swedish company working with them to help develop their sustainable urban agriculture plans from 2013. Speaking about Plantagon's continuing worldwide mission, Hassle spoke again about the importance of the idea.

"Food security and food safety are huge challenges for the future. By the time we are nine billion people, 80% of the world population will live in cities, and this urban sprawl means that food transportation and logistic systems will be strained."

With the statistics and predictions speaking for themselves - how will other major cities beat the fight against over-population?

Plantagon, Illustration: Sweco

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