Could you design the ultimate urban greenhouse?

Student Challenge: Design the Ultimate Urban Greenhouse

The explosion in urban growth presents opportunities as well as challenges to our environment and our food systems. Many cities start looking for ways to feed themselves sustainably and to create a liveable and healthy environment for urban dwellers.

To support these developments, Wageningen University & Research will organise a Student Challenge to “Design the Ultimate Urban Greenhouse” every other year.

The first edition of this Challenge in 2018 was part of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Wageningen University.

The Challenge

Multidisciplinary student teams are challenged to bring professional food production (back) into an urban neighbourhood, connecting it with local resource flows and e.g. local (smart) energy systems. Their design is based on an existing location in one of world’s major metropoles, different in every edition (Amsterdam in 2018). The teams receive all relevant specifications. Their design should encourage citizens to actively engage with the sustainable production and consumption of healthy food. Their business plan should show which values are created and prove that their design is worth investing in. The Challenge integrates social, economic, environmental and technical aspects.

The Challenge is open to student teams from all around the world, and teams may comprise students from different universities and universities of applied sciences.

Who has taken up the Challenge in 2018 (first edition)?

23 Student teams with students from over 30 universities worked on a ground-breaking design for food production in an urban setting. They came from ten countries: US, Brazil, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Germany, UK and the Netherlands. To get an impression of the 14 teams that made it to the finals and their concepts, click here.

And the winner is...

The winner of the first edition is GreenWURks, with their design “Open Bajes”.

The jury called Green WURks' Open Bajes a coherent design with attention for people, planet and profit, but also with an eye for the history of the building, financial support and the appointment of the stakeholders.

Runners-up were Thanks Work (2nd), Flor-Green (3rd) and Bright Sunshine (4th)

Besides the best overall concept, 3 special awards were granted.

The location

In the first edition of the Challenge teams made designs for an extraordinary location the ‘Bajes Kwartier’ in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Bajes Quarter houses the former infamous 'Bijlmer Prison', and the teams are basing their designs on one of the prison towers.

What did the teams submit?

Teams were expected to come up with innovative concepts and technologies for an “urban greenhouse”. We interpret “greenhouse” broadly and include - besides a greenhouse - also vertical farming, indoor farming and integrated growing systems such as aquaponics. Central to the concept is the significant, more than symbolic, production of food in the urban environment, and the integration in local circular flows.

Their entries consisted of:

  • a dossier describing the full concept;
  • a 2-minute video in which the concept is presented;
  • proof of concept and demo of the key enabling technologies or innovations;
  • a pitch-presentation for a jury of experts from industry, cities and science.

    How were their entries assessed?

    Entries were assessed by an expert jury from business, science and cities, based on the criteria listed here.

    The Finale

    The Grand Finale of the Challenge took place on August 28th, 2018.

    The Jury

    The Jury consisted of five renowned experts. Each of the jury members has an in-depth understanding of one of the disciplines relevant for judging the submissions. The list of the jury members can be found here.

    What's to win?

    The winning team received €10.000 to set follow-up steps in realizing and/or disseminating their concept and innovations.

    Our partners

    We are able to organize this Challenge thanks to the generous support of many partners and experts. Our main partners include: Rabobank, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, Klasmann-Deilmann, Bajes Kwartier B.V., FABRICations

    More info

    You can leave your name and email address on the right side of this page, to receive updates on the Challenge automatically.

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