This article focuses on waste management and food scarcity as global challenges, and how architects can contribute to eradicating them.
‘Climate change’ is a term that is constantly summoned upon us in today’s times. This change is a reminder of how global challenges that we are facing right now as humankind was once ignored and left un-tackled. In the period of the post-Industrial Revolution, the development of technology in terms of architecture was, astonishing. But, as a result of the population explosion, this developed technology was used haphazardly in order to fulfill the demands of citizens. The occurrence of these present-day challenges is the unfortunate consequence of this past. The field of architecture can be contentiously held accountable for the same.
Two of the prominent global challenges and their potential solutions are mentioned below-
Waste management has become one of the major issues in recent times. It is the process of managing waste from its creation to disposal. The scale at which waste management is dealt with ranges from space debris, industrial waste, to everyday household waste. We can contribute to efficient waste management by considering the following points-
1. Small scale waste management.
- Implementing efficient waste segregation techniques within the building.
- Minimizing the debris during the construction phase.
- Using building materials that can be recycled or reused.
2. Large scale waste management
Using landfills as potential building/ landscape option: Landfills, function as a dumping site for waste in urban and rural areas. They are potentially hazardous for the residents around the area and they have a negative impact on the environment.
An excellent example of waste management using landfill sites is the town of Vengurla, situated in the state of Maharashtra, India. Vengurla is the first town in India to generate revenue from the waste. Waste segregation is done efficiently which enables the authorities to reuse and recycle the waste to generate revenues.
- Energy is generated from wet waste through biogas plants.
- Horticulture waste is used to generate briquettes, which are sold off to local industries.
- Dry waste id recycled.
- 100 kg of slurry is produced and used as compost.
- Water is also recycled at the site.
- Plastic is used to make roads.
- In this manner, the landfill site is converted into a garden and is a major tourist attraction.
Enhancing the concept of waste segregation in individual buildings and towns can be a big step forward towards efficient waste management.
Scarce availability and reduced cultivation of food have resulted in increased food prices, causing inflation. This has resulted in a massive elevation in the global ‘Hungry population’. The number of malnourished in the world rose to over 1 billion in 2009. Scarcity occurred due to the following reasons-
- Increase in population
- Lack of fertile agricultural land and inefficient enforcement of laws protecting the local farmers and their needs. (Mainly, in developing countries like India)
The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas – and that number will only continue to grow. Food security is going to be another major concern. This is often overlooked by the designers and planners while planning a city, prioritizing infrastructural needs.
One of the eminent solutions to the food scarcity problem is the concept of vertical farming. Vertical farming is an ingenious method to produce food in the environments and regions which are not arable. It is a revolutionary method of agriculture and lowers the requirement of water to up to 70% and also saves considerable space and soil. It is a sustainable agricultural method and can be used extensively without space and climate constraints.
Some methods of vertical farming are listed below.
- Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture, the method of growing plants without soil, using the mineral nutrient solution in a water solvent.
- Aeroponics is a system wherein roots are continuously or discontinuously kept in an environment, saturated with fine drops of nutrient solution.
- Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, which grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish provides an organic food source for the plants, and plants naturally filter the water for the fish.
One of the best examples of vertical farming is Sky Greens in Singapore. It is situated in the Lim Chu Kang region of Singapore and is the world’s first low carbon hydraulic-driven vertical farming system. It produces five to ten times more food than conventional methods of farming, using the same area and almost 75% less labor. Each tower is 9 m tall with 38 shelves containing 8 trays, holding approximately 2,500 plants. A single tower uses only 40W of electricity to complete a rotating cycle. Natural sunlight is used in the system. Plants are irrigated and the water is recycled and reused.
An architect is bound by the social responsibility of looking into the well-being of humankind and the environment. With these contemporary and innovative techniques, there is hope for brighter and greener tomorrow after all.