We are a team of nine master students and one graduate student from Wageningen University. Team members are from different parts of China.
We are divided into the following sub-groups according to the members' different professional backgrounds: Environmental and design team with Jingxian Lu, Keren Zhang and Yawei Wang; Social environment team Jingyi Wang and Shiying Lin; Organic-Production team with Xingqiao Li, Yiqiang Yang, Socioeconomic team with Yingying Geng.
We are a diverse team with a background that combines strengths in landscape architecture, greenhouse horticulture, organic agriculture, and urban environmental sciences.
Site location is an exciting place for an urban greenhouse. Dongguan area is highly populated and highly developed with excellent infrastructure connections and access to technology. It is also a melting pot with many migrant workers from all over China coming to live and work in the area.
What we want to achieve
Combine Chinese cultural values within the context of a high-tech agricultural project to demonstrate the value of urban farming to Chinese consumers.
Reduce the cost and accessibility of health and fresh food for Chinese consumers living in urbanised areas.
What are the main starting points of our concept?
According to the statistics, in general, Chinese have limited knowledge regarding agriculture. However, they are interested in visiting greenhouse and acknowledge the importance of obtaining science and technology education in greenhouse. Based on these facts, we design our greenhouse as a place focusing on agricultural and related education to visitors. And at the same time, entertainment and relaxation, food experience with high-quality vegetables as well as family themed services are provided. We believe that there is a great potential to attract people who regularly visit public spaces and meet their expectations in greenhouse.
What are the main functions of our building?
Within the building, we envision offering multiple functions and engaging with different actors in creating an interactive, entertaining, educational, socially-responsible and collaborative environment, with innovative technical
solutions. Key building functions will include community interaction, education, recreation and sightseeing, collaboration and research, and showing advanced
technologies and design.
Herbs are commonly cultivated in vertical systems as it halves the turn of plant growth period or more and allows year-round crop production (C Lu, 2017). Considering nutrition values and cultivation conditions of herbs as well as eating habits of Chinese, we select about 20 herb species as our main crop types in the building. Apart from herb cultivation, we will also grow flowers and mushrooms in order to add diverse values (aromatic, ornamental and nutritional values) into our food system. We name the project as HerbTopia since herbs are our main crops of the project. Derived from “utopia”, “Topia” implies our hope of creating a paradise for people. The building is divided into two parts - Herb Garden ( 百草园), i.e. the production area and Sense Library ( 三味书屋), i.e. the experience area.
What are the unique selling points of our concept?
The project “Herbtopia” supplies diverse varieties plants in our production building. Visitors could not only learn how they grow, but also try their taste in our restaurant. If visitors are interested in our workshops, they could join to make essential oils and seasonings after picking plants in rooftop greenhouse.
At the same time, we have online media to promote the brand of “Herbtopia”. People can use our mobile app to observe the growth of plants, learning some basic agricultural knowledge such as how the plants grow in a virtual growing environment. Users can get digital rewards such as coupons of Herbtopia, which gives a discount to buyers and exchange e-points for entrance tickets to save visiting fees.
In terms of architecture, our project uses mixed climate responsive design approach to revive Lingnan architecture style, realize sustainable effect, and achieve the natural ventilation of our urban greenhouse. Besides, our building materials used biobased materials and bio-mixed waste materials. Even the Herbtopia are demolished in the future, the materials also could be reused.