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Fresh approaches to urban agriculture

17 July 2013

(From left) Dr Feng, URA CEO Mr Ng Lang and Prof Heng at the exhibition
Amidst rapid urbanisation in Asia, how do we ensure sustainable food production? Students hailing from 10 universities in Asia, Europe and the United States contended with this issue during this year’s Vertical Cities Asia International Design Competition.

Tongji University clinched the top prize, followed by ETH Zurich. NUS came in third for their entry titled “The Collective City.” Organised by the NUS School of Design and Environment (SDE), the annual competition is sponsored by international philanthropic organisation World Future Foundation Ltd (WFF) and the Beijing Vantone Citylogic Investment Corporation.

Giving the background for the challenge posed, SDE Dean Professor Heng Chye Kiang said: “As Asia urbanises, many of its cities will adopt the paradigm of high density and high capacity vertical cities in order to limit urban sprawl, protect agricultural land and optimise resource deployment. This is especially pertinent in highly populated countries with limited developable land – a condition that is prevalent in Asia.”

He found the competition a good platform for the international universities involved to research on various opportunities and challenges associated with this paradigm and spearhead a global effort to confront the realities of Asia’s fast-pace high-density urbanisation, thus forming appropriate sustainable solutions for very high density cities.

Dr Feng Lun, Chairman of WFF, said that the competition has “provided these bright young minds an opportunity to create fresh and exciting solutions for a world in great need of new paradigms. It is through initiatives such as this competition that we will discover new models of sustainable urban living. I look forward to what future competitions will bring.”

For this year’s competition themed “Everyone Harvests”, the students were tasked to propose ideas and plans for the sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply which realises the basic needs of the cities’ daily consumption. The proposed solutions would incorporate ways to use resources in an effective manner, including minimising water and saving energy.

They had to choose a square kilometre within a site situated some 17 kilometres to the west of the city centre of Hanoi, Vietnam, for their case study. The site is part of the Hoai Duc District.

In conjunction with the competition, an exhibition titled “Vertical Cities Asia International Design Competition: Everyone Ages” is being held from 28 June to 19 July 2013 at the Urban Redevelopment Authority. It showcases the entries from last year’s competition.