Graff, Gordon James
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Food production is unquestionably the most important industry to the well being of humanity. Unfortunately, it is also the industry that best exemplifies our species’ destructive impact on the rest of the Earth’s ecology. This thesis presents the argument that the concept of vertical farming could transform food production to resolve this long standing paradox. The document is comprised of two parts. The first establishes the intellectual framework necessary to assess agriculture’s effect on human and ecological systems, and explores the philosophies central to rationalizing high-density indoor agriculture with the objectives of human sustainability. The second part focuses exclusively on exploring the technologies and design strategies of the vertical farming concept. This aim is facilitated through the illustration of three design projects, each of which represents a distinct variant of the vertical farming concept. In order to ground this conceptual work within a real-world context the thesis includes a thorough cost-analysis of a simple, hypothetical vertical farm. The thesis concludes by addressing the vertical farm’s potential to transform urban resource metabolism from its existing linear dependence on the external environment to a more self-contained, cyclical resource flow reminiscent of that exhibited by natural ecosystems.