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Tokyo Gives Urban Farming a Place in the Sky...and Underground Featured

This Tokyo building is both an office building and a farm. This Tokyo building is both an office building and a farm.

 

Welcome to Tokyo, a high paced supercity defined by neon, glass, concrete and one of the most unlikely places to find a hydroponic farm.

This vanguard metropolis, which suggests little of the natural world, is home to just over an acre of unusual indoor farmstead with a unique and unexpected design true to the nation's style.

If you are asking yourself how, think of lettuce growing inside the seminar room of a corporate office in Tokyo's bustling financial district. Turn the exterior facade into a wall of hydroponic gardens and add 10,000 square meters of growing area in its basement and you've got Japan taking hydroponics to new levels, or rather new substrata, as nine floors of office space and a depository suddenly become a food producing Shangri-la.

New York-based Kono Designs embarked on the project, a maiden voyage into hydroponics for the studio, when Pasona Group Inc. proposed developing an underground farm in a bank vault beneath its corporate headquarters in 2005. The project was so successful that the two firms have been collaborating ever since, including the full renovation of Pasona's headquarters in 2010, which created another 43,000 square feet of farming space throughout the building.

Latticed ceilings of tomatoes above conference tables, fruit trees used as partitions, squash tendrils arching over a walkway, a lobby boasting a rice paddy as well as a broccoli field, and bean sprouts tucked in drawers under benches are just a taste of the endless growing areas within the building.

The 2005 project, called Pasona O2, is still a common tourist attraction in the district, if only for its remarkably modernist approach to design. The vault has six areas of cultivation that yield 100 different varieties of seedlings, herbs, flowers, fruit, vegetables and rice and is sustained by LEDs, metal halide lights, and high-pressure sodium vapor lamps. Each of the rooms has a unique feel, from being in an aluminum walled spaceship to a serene rice field tiered with wood paneling, leading you to wonder if living in an underground bunker wouldn't be all that bad.

After renovating Pasona's 50-year-old office, the concept was taken to new heights, and lush hydroponic edibles now find themselves in every story of the cutting edge facility. Latticed ceilings of tomatoes above conference tables, fruit trees used as partitions, squash tendrils arching over a walkway, a lobby boasting a rice paddy as well as a broccoli field, and bean sprouts tucked in drawers under benches are just a taste of the endless growing areas within the building.

On its exterior are three-feet-deep balconies plump with orange trees and flowers, providing shade to reduce summer cooling costs, and a roof top garden to cap it off.

The place offers a nice splash of green to passers-by but is aimed mostly at employees. As a recruitment agency for the agriculture sector, Pasona has hired hundreds of workers over the years that have taken care of the gardens as training before eventually transitioning into farming as a career. Permanent staffers take part in cultivation and harvest too, enjoying a bit of gardening alongside their workday while snacking on the fruits of their labor later on in the office cafeteria.

While Pasona employees sow seeds in quite possibly the most relaxed work environment ever, Tokyo's unique take on urban farming has proven that good hydroponic gardening can happen just about anywhere, even where you least expect it.

© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2013



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Last modified on Tuesday, 02 July 2013 18:17

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