Thursday, November 5, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

If you don't already know the term "ethylene tetrafluoroethylene," listen up. A light-weight, durable, self-cleaning, transparent alternative to plastic that was introduced years ago may prove to be useful in Vertical Farms, whenever and wherever they pop up. This fluorocarbon-based polymer, commonly known as ETFE, and which weighs only 1% the weight of glass, has been called a wonder-material by some, and will likely find its way into more and more of the Vertical Farm designs from architects around the world. Go here to see more projects built with this material, and go here to learn more about a company steeped in its use.

The largest ETFE structure is the Beijing Water Cube, which was used for all water events at the 2008 Olympics. The inside and outside of the 17 acre Water Cube are shown below.

One of the more famous projects done using ETFE is the Eden Project in Cornwall, England (about 300 miles southwest of London), designed by Grimshaw Architects. Eight geodesic domes constructed with steel frames and ETFE "pillows" that have been built into what used to be the site of a clay pit now house temperate and tropical fauna year round, and host bunches of tourists, by controlling temperature and humidity inside the sinuous maze of greenhouses covering most of the 35 acre site. Each hexagon is approximately 25 feet from flat-side to flat-side...indicating that the domes are HUGE!

By the looks of things, Vertical Farms have a very bubbly future.

(Photos from Getty Images, this site, this site and this site)

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