Dietmar Koering of Arphenotype’s utopian visions for the future of farming are both beautiful and completely self sufficient. His synergetic design is a floating permaculture, comprised of many green systems including wind power. Made possible by a grant from the Bakema Foundation and partnering with the Netherlands Architecture Institute and A10, Koering’s system is radical, futuristic, and would float about the North Sea.
Floating Permaculture is meant to be a living organism, a nomadic urban autonomous system designed for local, national and international awareness of water, energy, natural systems and urban rethinking – self sufficient and resourceful.
Today young architects are trying to bring farming components back into the urban environment, but rarely as an autonomous system rather often it is still based on fossil fuel elements, transportation and use of non recycled freshwater. Also it is fact that it is not possible to create farms on every roof due to static, orientation and shadow from next door buildings.
Floating Permaculture deals with the futuristic but real scenario that in short term either through flooding or due to overpopulation, normal farming as we know, is not longer possible. Food production becomes a vulnerable system linked to fossil fuel. The transportation of produced food takes often 1.000 of Kilometres before it reaches the consumer. This leads to traffic congestion, air pollution and carbon output. Also numbers show that in around 45 year mankind is running out of fossil fuels like oil and coal; hence it is logical to set up a trendsetting system of food and energy harvesting, which works self sufficient. Those systems could reduce the amount of freshwater used in Agriculture (which is nowadays 70%) and society would benefit by social food justice and education. The target is to create a “Floating Permaculture” which symbioses energy and food production as a floating “green reactor”; an autonomous floating farm. Proposed is that those floating reactors could “swarm” out in the North Sea linked to existing off-shore wind farms. Further benefit in creating floating farms is to reduce the storm water run-off, which is destroying the estuaries and the oceans
The idea of a permaculture loop originates from the Aztecs, who sought to create self-sufficient farm systems. The multilayered floating farms draw energy from alternative resources, outfitted with solar receivers, wind turbines and wave turbines. Wastewater and rain water are filtered naturally, through either an algae farm and subsequent reactor, or through a filter system using zebra mussels, and then re-circulated to nourish the organic produce. The zebra mussels also provide nourishment for fish and chickens which are raised on the mass. The excrement from the fish and other animals is used to fertilize the rice paddies, which in turn feed the chickens – as does the excess algae from the water purification system. Each feeds the next.
One problem of this idealistic system is that the current technology that harvests wind and sun energy cannot maintain or store enough energy to sustain the permacultures. A hydrogen-fuel cell can help generate the necessary energy, which can then be stored in a hydro-electric power-plant.
This fantastical floating utopia may seem like a science fiction movie from the 1960s now, but could be a viable option in the future if our natural resources do in fact run out. Complex self-sufficient and looped systems may be the answer to food production if traditional farming is no longer an option.
The method of working is based on the idea that life itself is research. That we experience what we do and where we are, not just as idea but as part of nature where the body is the machine and the food the energy. Seeing it as a system the input is history which contains the power of mistakes, from which we can learn. “… the outcome should be repeatable and unambiguous (stable in interpretation).” (R.Glanville). It should fit with the already known. This method denies that research is only a scientific field; research is life and therewith evolution. The message itself is what is important, and not who delivers it. Basicly it is working like as a practiced cook. Having a big jar for messages and being in the position to deal with this substance to create a meal without recipe. Reconsidering that this method is very artistic and differs from the traditional scientific research method, it is more like using a pioneering spirit. Whether as theory, design, object, strategy or detail, the research will focus on invention and discovery.