The Chinese city of Shenzhen recently commissioned the French firm Vincent Callebaut Architects to come up with an innovative and sustainable building solution for the growing metropolis. The result is this: The Shenzhen Asian Cairn Farmscraper project, an initiative consisting of six mix-used towers structured like a pile of rocks. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, the buildings will provide space for residents, offices, shops, recreation โ€” and as the name would imply, its own food.

China is often accused of being environmentally irresponsible, and for good reason. But it's a claim that may not stand the test of time. With an eye firmly planted on the future, the city of Shenzehn is actively responding to the demands of its rising population, unchecked urban sprawl, and rising CO2 emissions.

Each farmscraper will consist of three interlacing eco-spirals of 'pebbles' which make their way up two large towers. The word 'cairn' describes piles of stones that are often used to identify hiking trails.


Vincent Callebaut Architects explains their design:

In this context of hyper growth and accelerated urbanism, the Asian Cairns project fights for the construction of an urban multifunctional, multicultural and ecological pole. It is an obvious project to build a prototype of green, dense, smart city connected by the TIC [information and communication technologies] and eco-designed from biotechnologies.


Other sustainability features will include an open-air epidermis of photovoltaic and photo thermal solar cells, along with an extensive array of wind turbines that will be situated on top of the zenithal roofs.

Large basins of viticulture and lagoons of phyto-puration will be used to recycle the waste water generated by the farmscrapers.


The architects write:

These six farmscrapers are pioneer towers aiming at the 10 following objectives :

1. The diminution of the ecological footprint of this new vertical eco-quarter enhancing the local consumption by its food autonomy and by the reduction of means of road, rail and river transport.
2. The reintegration of local employment in the primary and secondary sectors coproducing the fresh and organic products to the city dwellers who will be able to reappropriate the knowledge of the farming production modes.
3. The recycling in short and closed loop of the liquid or solid organic waste of the used waters by anaerobe composting and green algae panels producing biogas by accelerated photosynthesis.
4. The economy of the rural territory reducing the deforestation, the desertification and the pollution of the phreatic tables.
5. The oxygenation of the polluted city centres whose air quality is saturated in lead particles.
6. The production of a vertical organic agriculture of fruits and vegetables limiting the systematic recourse to pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers.
7. The saving of water resource by the recycling of urban waters, spraying waters and the evapo-sweated water by the plants.
8. The protection of the biodiversity and the development of eco-systemic cycles in the heart of the city.
9. The diminution of the sanitary risks by the disappearance of pesticides noxious for the health and by the fertility and total protection of the phreatic tables.
10. The diminution of the recourse to fossil fuel needed for the conventional agriculture in long cycle for the refrigeration and the transport of the goods.


Some of you may recall that Vincent Callebaut Architects is responsible for this highly conceptual design: The Lilypad.


Sources: Vincent Callebaut Architects, World Architecture News, Inhabitat.

All images via Vincent Callebaut Architects.