Dragonfly, A Metabolic Farm for New York City in The Future

Dragonfly vertical farm is a concept urban farm specially designed for the Roosevelt Island of New York City which will reduce the problems associated with food shortage, mileage and connection between the producers and consumers. Because of the densely packed city civilization, this farm has been designed vertically, spanning 132 floors and 28 different agricultural fields for accommodating dragonflies aiming to produce fruit, grains, vegetables, meat and dairy. This Dragonfly wing shaped superstructure features wind and solar power producing capability and includes housing, offices, research labs and communal areas separated from farms, orchards and production rooms. Throughout the glass and steel set of wings, animal and plant farming is arranged as well as soil nutrient levels are maintained properly.

dragonfly vertical farm for future new york

dragonfly vertical farm for future new york

[Press Release]



The world of fast-food and frozen food is over! The urban keen interest of the beginning of our Century turns toward the garden flat bringing back the countryside in our overcrowded cities fighting from now on for a community urban agriculture able to contribute to the durability of the city and to rethink the food production.

On the roofs, terraces, balconies, in the hollow of the non-built public spaces, in the interior yards and the suspended greenhouses, the eco-warrior aspires to escape from its competitive and consumeristic universe imposed by the laws of the market. He desires to cultivate its immediate landscape so as to better take root in the ground by creating his own ecologic and alimentary biodiversity. The consumer becomes from then on producer and the garden inhabitant !

From the Parisian « worker gardens » to the « community gardens » of New York going though Muscovite « vegetable squares », eight hundred million of urban farmers, i.e. more than one human being out of ten, consume nowadays chlorophyllous products from these cosmopolitan kitchen gardens. These new gardens, aware of the emergency to reduce our fuel consumption and the necessity to modify our behaviour facing the climatic changes, decrease thus their environmental impact and build eco-responsible cities on a community way.

dragonfly vertical farm for future new york


According to the PNUD (Programme of the United Nations for the Development), the worldwide urban population will go from 3.1 billion of inhabitants in 2009 up to 5.5 billion of inhabitants within 2025. Looking for a positive energetic assessment, the contemporary city aims within fifteen years at producing cleanly and intensively more energy than it consumes so as to pack this urban exodus! It develops therefore the urban agriculture to become food self-sufficient by recycling at the same time its liquid waste by phyto-purification, its solid waste in fertilizers by composting and by producing energy by biomass, photovoltaic cells and other renewable energies (thermic solar, photovoltaic solar, wind, tide-turbine energies…).

In order to avoid the asphixiation of the planet and the feeding of its 9 billion of inhabitants within 2050, it deals thus with reinventing the traditional energetic pattern between the city and the countryside between western countries, emerging countries and developing countries. This sums up as following: on the one hand import of natural and food resources, and on the other hand export of waste and pollution. The ecologic city aims at reintegrating the farming function on the urban scale by emphasizing the role of the urban agriculture in the use and the reuse of natural resources and biodegradable waste so as to close the loop of ecologic flows.

dragonfly vertical farm for future new york

The urban agriculture can feed the city without any pesticide or chemical fungicide (whose toxicity is proved on the human being : cancer, sterility…), and make it less food dependant of its backcountry or other regions of the world. Organising the distribution of fresh products in short circuits, that means linked directly with the consumer, the urban agriculture complete thus the traditional agriculture. In addition to the nutritive quality of the produced and consumed food, the urban agriculture is also a growth lever of the urban unemployment market and the local economy. It is used directly as a social link in the conciliation of the primary needs of the newcomers with the challenge of their integration in the life of the city, fighting thus against poverty and exclusion. On the sanitary level, this farm approach presents also an interesting potential for the decontamination of polluted grounds and undergrounds as well as for he purification of the polluted atmosphere in CO2.

Due to the fuel crisis and climatical change, the rural agriculture of the western countries must answer to the worldwide food crisis of the developing countries and mainly Africa. Its role is from now on to produce (with an increase estimated of 60% within 2050) all the foodstuffs transportable by boat such as cereals or corn. This is based on the evolution of the science and the most advanced biotechnologies. In addition to this nutritious role, the rural agriculture is newly challenged to recycle its own culture rebus for the green chemistry in order to produce the bio fuel called “second generation fuel” using the energy of non-consumable materials from the plants, that means fibres such as celluloses.

dragonfly vertical farm for future new york


The architecture has to be in the service of this new agriculture and to design this new social desire in this context of ecologic mutation and food autonomy! The Dragonfly project suggests therefore building a prototype of urban farm offering around a mixed programme of housing, offices and laboratories in ecological engineering, farming spaces which are vertically laid out in several floors and partly cultivated by its own inhabitants. This vertical farm sets up all the sustainable applications in organic agriculture based on the intensive production varied according to the rhythm of the seasons. This nourishing agriculture is furthermore in favour of the reuse of biodegradable waste and the keeping of energy and renewable resources for a planning of ecosystemic densification.

Floor by floor, the tower superposes not only stock farming ensuring the production of meat, milk, poultry and eggs but also farming grounds, true biological reactors continuously regenerated with organic humus. It diversifies the cultivated varieties to avoid the washing of stratums of soft substratum. Thus, the cultures succeed one another vertically according to their agronomical ability to provide some elements of the ground between the essences that are sowed and harvested. The tower, true living organism, becomes thus metabolic and self-sufficient in water, energy, and bio-fertilizing. Nothing is lost; everything is recyclable to a continuous auto-feeding!

dragonfly vertical farm for future new york

The architecture of Dragonfly prototype suggests reinventing the vertical building (that outlined the urbanistic booming of New York City since the 19th Century) as structurally and functionally as ecologically and energetically.

To ensure the social diversity and a permanent life cycle (24h/24) in the tower, the mixed programmation is mainly laid out around two poles of housing and work places. Around housings, offices and research laboratories as well as the most private to the most public agricultural and leisure spaces are designed in gardens, kitchen gardens, orchards, meadows, rice fields, farms and suspended fields. The distribution of flows is made around a true safe spine spreading in loop the numerous elevators, the goods elevators and stair wells serving all the levels by separating simultaneously the inputs and the outputs recycled from plants, animals and human beings.

dragonfly vertical farm for future new york

Architecturally, the functional organisation is represented by two oblong towers symetrically arranged in pair around a huge climatic greenhouse that links them and deploys itself between two crystalline wings. These very light wings in glass and steel retake the loads of the building and are directly inspired from the structure of the dragonfly wings coming from the family of “Odonata Anisoptera” whose transparent membrane is very finely nervured. Two inhabited rings buttress around these wings. Their organically chiselled exo-structure accommodates the inter-climatic spaces that receive the agrarian cultures. They buttress.

The whole set forms «double layer» architecture in bee nest mesh that exploits the solar passive energy at its maximum level, by accumulating the warm air in the winter in the thickness of the exo-structure, and by cooling the atmosphere by natural ventilation and by evapo-perpiration of the plants in the summer. Protecting thus the cultures from climatic changes in New York (from -25.5°C in the winter to +41°C in the summer), these plug spaces are useful to reflect on the agriculture not anymore in terms of surface area but really in terms of volume. Actually, whereas grounds nourish orchards, each wall and each ceiling are metamorphosed into three-dimensional kitchen gardens. The interior frontages of the housing and offices throw towards the skyline of New York the cantilever of their hydrophonic balconies with hexagonal section thanks to what it multiplies the culture layers by floors. The vegetation abounds, the earth is swarming of insects and animals are freely brought up in holding tanks by urban consumers with low income. The architecture becomes eatable!

dragonfly vertical farm for future new york

Designer : Vincent Callebaut Architect

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15 thoughts on “Dragonfly, A Metabolic Farm for New York City in The Future

  1. Build this anyplace for any City, Much in demand.

    The Future for Farming is in the Hi Rise.

    ALL cities, esp LA CA, SF CA.

  2. nice idea, an concept, pity though, I don't think it will work. if you look at it, it takes up so much space! and so very little people are there. Look at at it this way, the cities are becoming over populated. so in order to have your own big enough space, you need to be rich! In reality, which rich people would want to be planting and involved in agriculture? Unless if the desig was to be a concept high class hotel, then only do I think it will be successful.

    I love the concept!

    • it wont take up that much room if you think about it. man we could build these off of every cost in the world. we have the technology to make this stuff happen. and if you think about it, most of the ideas we as humans have even though they seem complexe they really are not, they are actually quite doable. in the end though it comes do to weather we build these things and make the world a easier, more produtive, more peacefull world

  3. This is like my dream!!!!!!! I've studied natural medicine and organic gardening for 11 years. I always tell people my ideas on the subject and they look at me crazy but now I can show them this and they will understand completely! If you need any help please ask, or I'll ask, May I please help! This is my true passion!!!! I Love It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. hi, my name is bradley charles. i am very intrested in your agriculture and architecture ideas, i would very much like to be a part of the advancment into future technologys. im also trying to use some of this information to help in polotics to create a free world not just the freedom of choice but the freedom of stress of all the problems of this world. if you have any advise or would lke to speak with me, my facebook is bradley charles and my email is [email protected].

  5. This kind of vision is much closer to the "on earth as it is in heaven" kind of planning which I imagine God had in mind when he asked us to "replenish the earth". And it's possible. Just like it's possible to provide housing and clothing for everyone. Keep collecting seeds and keep praying for a more earth friendly approach to re-creating our communities.

  6. A tall structure like that would obviously need elevators, which use up a fair amount of electricity. Would the structures solar and wind power be up to the task, or would you still need outside power?

  7. i think this is a great concept buy why New York? Why not Tokyo? Japan has a lot less space for agriculture and has one of the highest population densities in thw world in such a small country while america has plenty of space. I think this is a brilliant idea but prehaps a universal design for any ciity?

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