Dalian Vertical Farming

Dalian, China 2012


It is not down in any map, true places never are.
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Facing the overwhelming speed and scope of development in China, the exiting history of a site is often lost in the race to transform, modernize and expand the city. There is a consensual, collective disregard for context as a source of city identity. Through this research, we seek to reassert the logic of the existing site as the driver for speculative design and the generator of new city form. This project, completed in collaboration with the UDD architecture and planning office in Dalian, China, rethinks the master plan for a 2km2 site at the periphery of city development. Initial conceptualization of the site was developed through participatory mapping of the specific objects that make up the site. This mapping identified a collection of existing greenhouses as a productive network in the site that should be incorporated in future development. A script was developed to explore a process for progressively shifting the greenhouse units from the existing horizontal configuration to a series of vertical farming towers. The location and density of these towers was developed so to maintain the productive network in the face of impending development pressures and to encourage the concentration of local market nodes in response to this pressure.