IAAC’s Solar Greenhouse produces both food and energy
- Sustainable Architecture
- IAAC’s Solar Greenhouse produces both food and energy
This issue is the focus of the work of a team of students, professionals and experts in the Master’s Programme in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities (MAEBB) at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) Valldaura Labs. The group built a Solar Greenhouse in the Natural Park of Collserola, on the outskirts of Barcelona, which, according to the authors, “is the result of the investigation and search of new ways of adapting to modern life and withstanding future food and energy crises, reinterpreting the way we meet our most basic social needs in a more ecological way. The project proposes a space for self-sufficient cultivation as a solution to food and energy production in cities and makes further progress towards the zero-emission city model as proposed by the EU by 2050.”
It was built using solar energy, sustainable materials and advanced cultivation technology that can be implemented in the countryside or on rooftops in the city to make an effective contribution to food self-sufficiency. The prototype built by the team at Valldaura Labs is a "zero kilometre" project, further reducing its ecological footprint. Use of water, the substrate and building materials from the surrounding area entirely eliminate the supply chain characterising today’s food industry.
Not only is the frame of the greenhouse made out of sustainably grown pine wood harvested and processed in the Valldaura area, but the layout of the structure on two levels limits all forms of impact. The germination area is on the ground floor, while the upper level is set up for cultivation employing advanced hydroponic techniques permitting plants to grow without consuming farmland. The substrate in which the plants are grown contains recycled sawdust, a waste product from the Green Fab Lab, another IAAC laboratory in Valldaura, and the greenhouse roof is made of 'diamond-shaped' glass to capture as much sunlight as possible, so that it comes in directly to the solar panels and the plants cultivated in the greenhouse. Nutrients are supplied from storage tanks through nutrient inlets and pipes that feed the plants. A matrix of LED strip lights makes growth cycles easier with the help of Black Light.
The Solar Greenhouse developed by the students and researchers in the Master’s Programme in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities (MAEBB) of the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) represents an important step forward toward a new, more efficient form of agriculture which could be applied to the countryside and cities anywhere in the world. An important contribution to our future, considering the impact of food production for a growing population on the CO2 balance of the planet.
Project: Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) Valldaura Labs and its Masters programme in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities (MAEBB)
Vicente Guallart and Daniel Ibañez (directors). Developed by the students of the Masters programme in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities (MAEBB), 2020/21 class: Bartłomiej Najman, Dafni Vakalopoulou, Rebecca Baierwick, Ignacio Reyes Solis, Paulina Sevilla, Yangchuan Tian, Fatemeh Nejatii, Marilia Sofia Fernández Lockwood, Amrithavarshini Prabhuram, Kevin Xi Lim, Akshay Sunil Mhamunkar, Mona El batrik, Engjëll Rodiqi, Philipp Wienkämper, Christa Hörburger.
Location: Valldaura Labs of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Spain
Images: Adrià Goula