Green urban elements for the co-production of food and energy
CO-mida has been one of the 7 winning projects of Ciutat Proactiva 2020, a call for urban innovation launched by the BIT Habitat Barcelona Municipal Foundation to face the new challenges of urban inclusion and sustainability in the context of covid- 19.
It is a project of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), and the partner entities Sun Sun Love Association with ConnectHort and the Taula Eix Pere IV Association.
The project developed a smart modular vertical garden made of 3D printed clay, to grow aromatic and edible plants in built environments where horizontal surfaces are not available, such as in dense urban areas. It can be installed on any type of vertical surface, and in particular on building facades, increasing their thermal inertia and reducing the need for heating inside the building.
BIOPHOTOVOLTAIC: PRODUCING ENERGY FROM THE EARTH
The vertical garden produces not only aromatic and edible plants, but also energy, thanks to a Bio-Photovoltaic system that collects energy from the bacteria that inhabit the soil where the plants live.
Bacteria obtain nutrients from plants and metabolize them, releasing hydrogen protons and electrons. The introduction of a microbial fuel cell (anode and cathode) leads to a redox process that transfers the free electrons released by the bacteria from the anode to the cathode, thus producing electrical energy, which can be used to power the sensors of the vertical garden.
3D PRINTING WITH CLAY, A LOW CARBON FOOTPRINT TECHNOLOGY
The technique used for the realization of the vertical garden is 3D printing with clay, a natural material with a low carbon footprint, which after firing at low temperature is transformed into ceramic.
Within the framework of the project, 3D printing workshops with clay were carried out, to learn and experiment creatively with this technique.
Digital manufacturing, thanks to numerical control machines such as large-scale 3D printers and milling machines, facilitated the co-design process with users, allowing different versions of the garden module prototypes to be easily made, and the system to be adapted to different dimensions, morphologies and demands, according to the needs identified by the community.
THE PARTICIPATORY PROCESS OF CO-DESIGN WITH USERS
Through a series of workshops with the two groups of users of the project, the residents of Passatge Trullàs and the ConnectHort collective, the co-design of the vertical garden has been a key phase of the project, and made it possible to integrate the presence of the modules in the long-term project of the two collective spaces.
Both groups gave innovative and interesting ideas to expand the impact of the project: the modules integrated new functions, aimed at social inclusion and also at a broader interaction with the animal and plant species of the urban ecosystem.
CO-MIDA APP: AN INTELLIGENT SYSTEM FOR THE COMMUNITY CARE OF THE VERTICAL GARDEN
A WebApp was developed for the community management of the vertical garden, CO-mida App, based on the Smart Citizen Kit system, a project that develops sensor kits for real-time environmental monitoring by citizens.
The intelligent system of the vertical garden includes humidity and temperature sensors, one for each line of modules, which send information to users through the CO-mida App about the status of the plants and the amount of Bio Photovoltaic energy produced. By accessing the CO-mida App you can see the data of the plants of the two prototypes in real time.
CO-mida project aims to contribute to the construction of a new scenario that prioritizes deglobalization and the commitment to more self-sufficient, sustainable and resilient local production models.
In this context, CO-mida uses urban space to produce food while restoring the surrounding ecosystem and biodiversity, thus reducing greenhouse gases and optimizing air quality.
The documents to fabricate the vertical garden modules and the guidelines for its co-design and co-maintenance will be available soon on this web page, which will include a forum for suggestions to improve the project.
To learn more visit:
- BIT-Habitat, Ciutat Proactiva, Ajuntament de Barcelona
- Asociación Taula Eix Pere IV (ATEP IV), Asociación Sun Sun Love (ASSL)