Unbuilt Vancouver: The Growing Machine


In a praiseworthy move by the City of Vancouver, we have committed to becoming the Greenest City by 2020. Although the merits of such a move are self-evident, the challenges to reach this goal are numerous. One such difficulty is the limited space allocated to the Agricultural Land Reserve, a zone of farmland along the Fraser River which is designated to prioritize farming and to discourage development from other industries. As more people move into Vancouver, the availability of locally-grown food may not be able to keep up with the market.

The Growing Machine by Trevor Vilac, propose for the corner of Commercial Drive and Franklin Street
The Growing Machine by Trevor Vilac, propose for the corner of Commercial Drive and Franklin Street

In 2013 Trevor Vilac, a local Building Science Technologist, proposed a new type of building which, through vertical hydroponics, could reintroduce farming into the city. The benefits include reducing transportation distances, increasing availability of produce, exposing younger generations to the agriculture industry, and revolutionizing the farm-to-table movement. Trevor describes the project below:

TV: The Growing Machine is an industrial and educational building focusing on urban agriculture. The Growing Machine combines industry with public amenities by integrating elements such as a vertical hydroponic garden, classrooms integrated to the garden, research labs, and a farmer’s market on the ground floor. The intentions of this project are to define urban agriculture as a new industrial typology, and to combine agriculture, sustainability, and education into a holistic experience.

The technical goal of the Growing Machine is to create a farm within an urban context with minimal environmental impact. From a technical systems framework, the building systems focus on keeping a closed-loop energy cycle and a closed-loop water cycle.

The Growing Machine touches on the notion of closed-loop energy and water cycles by using complementary systems. The Growing Machine combines elements such as aquaponics (the introduction of fish into the water supply system used for gardening), composting, and rainwater harvesting.

The industrial component of the Growing Machine is the vertical garden. The educational component is the high degree of transparency in the interior and on the exterior of the building. Taken together, the Growing Machine aims to show just how local our local food can be.

-Trevor Vilac

If you are interested in Trevor and his work he can be reached via email at trevorevilac@gmail.com

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James is an Intern Architect who aims to re-imagine the future of the metro area through the creative, youthful design studies conducted by the local art, photography, industrial design, architecture, and urbanism community. If you are interested in seeing your work showcased on Vancouver is Awesome, please submit a package including at minimum imagery and a brief description to jamesavbligh@gmail.com. No formatting is required for a submission. Only those designers whose work is selected for the blog will be contacted. Student and alumni submissions are welcome and encouraged.