Posted by Dabney B. on Thursday, August 9th, 2012
There are a lot of different ways that you can take aquatic architecture. You can create useful flood control systems, artistic fountains, educational aquariums, or exciting swimming pools. One category we’re hearing about more and more is green aquatic architecture.
The solution to world hunger and global warming might be right under our noses — or, more accurately, right above our noses. Architects and engineers are turning to rooftops as the stage for a new wave of civil engineering. The idea is pretty simple: rooftops are already bought and paid-for, but they’re a vastly underutilized space. If you go to the rooftop of any modern building you’ll probably find either a slanted roof or a giant, industrial-strength air conditioning unit and some gravel.
The idea behind this new wave of architecture is to level off the roof, cover it in dirt, and let mother nature do its thing. You see, the great advantage of rooftops is that they get a tremendous amount of rain water and sunlight. You know what absolutely adores water and sunlight? Plants! And to a lesser degree, fish!
The Green Sky Growers’ rooftop farm located near Orlando, Florida produces thousands of pounds of healthy vegetables and fish each year, all from the tops of typical city buildings. Why do they raise fish and not, say, sheep or cattle? It’s not because they want to avoid the constant sound of hoof-clopping bothering people working on the floors below, it’s because of a nifty system called aquaponics.
Remember this article about the flower pot / fish bowl that creates a symbiotic relationship between the two organisms? Fish poo gradually accumulates in the bowl, but what’s disgusting to humans and poison to fish is a delicious treat for plants. They suck up the fish doody to simultaneously purify the water and get a healthy nutrient boost. The great thing about this system is that it’s cheaper raising fish or plants without the other.
As if that wasn’t already cool enough, the entire Green Sky Growers’ operation is absolutely state-of-the-art. The greenhouses are hooked up to software that measures the sunlight and temperature each day. The system ventilates the greenhouse when it gets too hot and insulates it when it gets too cold. The fish get food at regular intervals and the plants are kept nice and damp by a nitrate-rich water spray. The plant pots even rotate in order to maximize leaf exposure to sunlight.
Don’t get too worried about that picture. The fish do look a little bit cramped, but the biologist who manages the farm explained that they have plenty of space to move around — they’re just congregating at the window because it’s chow time. Evidently, fish like a nice view while they eat. It’s funny, isn’t it? Humans love to look at the ocean over dinner, and tilapia like to gaze upon Orlando when they nibble on food flakes.