A set of vertical farms designed for use in China. Image: Vincent Callebaut Architects.
If you follow architecture or design at all, you may have come across aggressively futuristic renderings of skyscrapers topped with rice paddies, or tree-shaped buildings, sprouting plant life from every orifice.
However fantastical they may look, these designs spring from two very practical problems. First: as the proportion of the world living in cities nears 55 per cent, wouldn’t it be more efficient to grow food close to these consumers, rather than shipping everything in from rural areas? And second: as the world’s overall population increases, aren’t we going to run out of flat space to farm?