Posts Tagged ‘Tongji University’

29 May

Vertical Farming With Plantagon & Tongji University


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links below):

Allow me to introduce you to a wonderfully innovative project that truly reflects the spirit of “Necessity is the mother of invention“, below.

Did you know that there are over 7 billion people residing on planet earth at the moment (Please refer to World Population Clock)? By 2050, that number will have increased to 9+ billion and nearly 80% of the earth’s population will be residing in urban centers. They will require an additional chunk of arable land the size of Brazil in order to grow enough food. Furthermore, the potential loss of coastal property due to rising sea levels, crop loss from drastic weather related incidents, and the need to reforest large swaths of land in order to sequester CO2, these are all good reasons for motivating human kind to investigate toward a new agricultural technique, the vertical farming!

The vertical farm is a fantastic solution that automates the production of food in a more sustainable manner, reducing waste, pollution and carbon emissions. It is not meant to eliminate traditional rural farming but simply to reduce the strain put on the land, allowing some of it to return to nature and forest. Apparently, for each indoor acre farmed, 10 to 20 outdoor acres of farmland could return to their natural ecological state (which in most cases is hardwood forest).

To name some of the eco-benefits  of local and urban vertical farms for our planet earth: 1. No pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and no pollution injected into waterways because vertical farms will rely on peat and/or hydroponic organic farming techniques.

Hydroponic farming (Hydroponic Onions, NASA,wikipedia)

2. Eliminating the need for heavy machinery and farming equipment responsible for a significant amount of agricultural emissions because vertical farms will be highly efficient and densely built. 3. Irrigation water will likely come from treated rainwater, grey or black. Efficient use and reuse of water inside the farm and recycling water will help to reduce the water use. 4. Indoor controlled growth eliminates crop loss due to weather and natural disasters such as flood, drought, or hurricanes.5. Environmental impact resulting from shipping will practically be eliminated. 6. Green tech jobs will be dramatically increased for growers, researchers, technicians, vendors, etc.

A Swedish-America company, Plantagon, has recently developed a vertical farm in the shape of a glass geodesic dome containing an urban greenhouse, leading the way in producing organic and functional food in urban area, cutting costs and environmental damage by eliminating transportation and delivery. Curvature of the glass allows varying amounts of sunlight to penetrate through according to the angle of incidence. The company Plantagon is working with Sweco (a consulting engineering firm) to calculate how much sun will reach the interior ramps as the seasons and the sun’s position in the sky change. Although much needs to be figured out, Plantagon  envisons major cities adopting their greenhouse concept, featuring a large spiraling ramp that will provide the necessary space for food growth and production. Plantagon innovation consists of having succeeded in eliminating the need for artificial lighting through a transport system which moves the cultivation boxes from floor to ceiling in a slow pace helically. The natural lighting that is available then distributed evenly to the plants. Let’s take a look at the video of this innovative vertical greenhouse of Plantagon, below:

The company is behind a project with a vertical greenhouse, built in Linköping.  Sustainable cities have also provided financial support to carry out a feasibility study for the possible establishment of a vertical greenhouse in Botkyrkavägen.  Internationally Plantagon in collaboration with Tongji University in Shanghai established Tongji Plantagon Research Center, which opened in April 2013.

Plantagon greenhouse was elected in February 2009 in the Globe Forum Sustainable Innovators 100 list.  Plantagon greenhouse was one of 50 Swedish inventions that were showcased in “The spirit of innovation room” in the Swedish Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010 .

Truly, the Homo sapiens have once again come up with a brilliantly appealing solution to one of the human plights…and it is done with such style…I can even envision Plantagon or future vertical farmers requiring different pieces of classical music to be streamed through the dome shaped glass greenhouse (well nourished by the sunshine) that will ultimately feed not only the body but also the mind and soul of mankind. What a lovely place to work in, full of oxygen, music, and sunshine….

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments or suggestions will be welcomed either publicly as comment below or privately via


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29 September

Canopea House of France Came On Top, Para Eco-House of China, Counter Entropy House of Germany, Omotenashi House of Japan In Solar Decathlon Europe 2012


Dear Friends & Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links, below)

While visiting the eighteen houses in Villa Solar in Madrid, Spain, designed by university students from eleven countries, I was thoroughly impressed by their creative use of solar passive and active energy systems and  much consideration for reuse-recycling-conservation of all natural resources.

Of all eighteen designs that participated in Solar Decathlon Europe (SDE) 2012, one stood above all others in many respect, not only in the physical sense (the fact that this design represented a nanotower concept), but also due to its  special consideration for individuals’ relationship to nature and to community.  The Canopea House of Team Rhone-Alpes (of Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Grenoble of France)

Canopea of Rhone-Alpes of Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture de Grenoble of France, Winner of Solar Decathlon Europe of 2012: Nanotower (top) & Top Floor (bottom).Canopea is the winner of Overall, Comfort Conditions Contest, Functioning on the House Contest, and Innovation Contest

answered the modern concern for population density in the French alpine corridor cities where land is scarce and expensive (resulting from limited urban space due to presence of mountains and rivers): in terms of  space, comfort, investment and maintenance cost, reducing sense of isolation while increasing sense of community through shared living space on top floor (with common laundry, summer kitchen, relaxing place for the community, gardens, and storage boxes) and  communal gardening area, and connected transit network, services, and shops.  But the most inviting feature, for me, was the top communal floor where natural sunlight splashing down from the solar cell-patterned ceiling (truly reflecting the idea of human being living below the canopy), residents  swinging in various hammocks, BBQ, or converse with neighbors.  That sense of shared community chased away any feeling of  isolation often seen in urban sprawl.  This design truly is the most wholistic answer not just for our energy consumption but also our humanity.

The second house featured in this clip, Para Eco-House of  Tongji Team (of Tongj University of China),

Para Eco House of Tongji Team of Tongji University of China

combined both parametric and ecological strategies into the design of this house while utilizing passive and active energy systems in this project.  The concept of multi-layer skin emerged from a combination of Dao theory in Eastern philosophy and the theories of Michel Foucault in Western thought, especially the ideas of autonomy in architecture. The two philosophies merged, as did the active and passive energy systems, into a symbiotic relationship, with mutual benefit.  I was very intrigued by its external  lattice skin/rhomboid wall designed by a computer program written by Tongji University students, based on climate data collected from Madrid, Spain.  To name some of its ecological strategies:  PV panels, solar collector system, motorized sun tracking solar panels, PVT system, gray water treatment and ventilation aid, wetland filter system, water south heat pump with heat recovery unit, rain water harvesting, evaporating water cooling, architectural shading, inner courtyard ventilation, vertical green, composite skin system, VIP thermal proof wall, bamboo furniture, temperature-humidity independent control system, mist propagation system, LED lighting, etc.

Below, you will see this video clip composed of highlights of 4 designs of Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 (details of these individual designs can also be found at our sunisthefuture Youtube Channel):

The third design in this clip, the Counter Entropy House

Counter Entropy House of RWTH Aachen University of Germany during Solar Decathlon Europe 2012


RWTH University from Germany, was based on the idea of optimizing resources and energy life cycle of a building in which the production,transport, and eventual disposal components were all considered. This house included products made from recycled material and direct or indirect object recycling (such as facade made from melted CD panels, the floor made from old beams of Aachener stadium, and the furnishing made from reused wooden boards collected from bulk rubbish). Counter Entropy design combined multifunctional and space-saving configurations to create maximum space by optimal use and adaptation to current situation.  Its coolest feature was the transparent moving wall, remotely controlled by IPad/notepad, as though magic was in place during a scene in Star Trek;this feature also provided most fantastic ventilation/fresh air. It was also based on the idea of a thermal cooling system being much more sustainable than climatizing the house with electricity.  So, the abandonment of a mechanical heat pump as the central element of the building services engineering was the main aim while a far-reaching use of solar thermal energy was used to provide the energy needed air-conditioning. The solar thermal energy provided significant advantages over the exclusive use of photovoltaic cells. The second system was the cooling ceiling fed by a  special fluid circle: rain water from the tank cools down the dispersion, water blended with PCM within the cold-storage tank via a heat exchanger.  The dispersion in the cold storage tank is pumped through the ceiling, cooling down the room temperature by means of radiation cooling.

The fourth and final segment of this clip was the Omotenashi House

Omotenashi House of Chiba University of Japan during Solar Decathlon Europe 2012

of the Chiba University of Japan, a new type of housing and lifestyle centered on promoting energy and food self sufficiency by reintroducing the agricultural environment into the residence.  Besides rice paddies in front and vegetations on side of the house, the plant factory (with controlled temperature and humidity) is seen being used for rapid, safe, and efficient cultivation of crops.  Engawa (an encounter space connecting the interior to exterior of the house) is  where one may encounter people, nature, the movement of time, or to enjoy activities such as growing plants or enjoying tea with visiting neighbors. The movable tatami mat units in the engawa allowed the semi outdoor space to be reconfigured, enabling a variety of living environments.  Omotenashi House was built from precise, robot-made units, reducing energy use and CO2 emissions during construction.  With the roof tile-shaped solar panels (as BIPV, building-integrated solar PV) , it can produce 1.7 times the electrical capacity produced by previous panels, while presenting the appearance of traditional Japanese roof.  Omotenashi House also used material such as Japanese tatami and recycled decking (regulating the indoor environment and produce low VOC’s).  Furthermore, these are all biodegradable sustainable materials.  This design from Japan definitely had thoughtfully considered our life with plants, link between indoor and outdoor, and health and sustainability of all.

Related sites:

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,


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26 August

Solar Decathlon (9)-Team China-Tongji Universtiy’s Y Container of 2011


If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at Thank you very much. We are at a critical juncture in human history when individual effort and participation in the transition into renewable energy age is desperately needed!  Your signature will be very meaningful in helping all earthlings!  For a summary of why we need to switch to power the earth with Wind-Water-Sunlight quickly, reasons are explained by Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson at There are more than sixteen episodes of discussions on FIT (Feed-In-Tariff/CLEAN Program) available at Please feel free to read/listen to them (type in feed-in-tariff in the search box at right).

In this particular walkthrough of the design of Team China-Tongji University’s Y-Container design that contains the future occurs in three steps, using disposed containers from the docks that can be easily transported: Transform, Add Components, Add Deck.  Basically Y Container is composed of three concepts: 1. Container of Energy: using the PV panels to capture solar radiation-> turn/ transform solar radiation into electricity->using this electricity to power the appliance inside the Y-Container 2. Container of Views: a visual angle of 120 degrees provides varied views of exterior landscape 3. Container of Water: the deck collects and filters the rainwater for domestic use.  Some of its features include: the flowing space (with movable walls) changes with the Murphy bed; triangular module and the sliding door with multifunctional space makes life much more flexible;intelligent control panel;roof ventilation valve controller with roof ventilation windows.  This design of Y-Container truly contains the simplicity, flexibility, and reusability (both in man-made material from the dock and what is provided to us through Mother nature, the rainwater).  Now, let’s take a look at this design while enjoying its beautiful background music –>


written and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,






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