When it comes to public landmarks and architecture, Rotterdam very much does its own thing. Where else but the Netherlands’ second city would you find Piet Blom’s brilliantly garish cube houses – or, for that matter, the huge city-centre statue locals have fondly nicknamed the ‘buttplug gnome’?
In recent years, all focus has been on the city’s waterways as architects look to transform Europe’s biggest port city into a pioneer of floating architecture. And no such project has received more attention than the huge floating dairy farm that opened to much fanfare in the Merwehaven harbour area in 2018.
Now Goldsmith, the architectural practice behind that project, have just unveiled the design for a chicken and cress farm that will be built alongside it.
Like its predecessor, Floating Farm Poultry aims to help the city produce more of its own food and show local children how modern farms operate. It also points to a not-all-that-distant future in which overcrowded cities may turn to waterways to host increasing numbers of homes and businesses.
The farm will consist of two storeys above the water’s surface, plus one beneath. Some 7,000 hens will occupy the top floor, an LED-powered cress farm the basement, and processing areas for the eggs and cress the middle floor. Public walkways will allow visitors to observe the day-to-day running of the farm.
And if you were worried an industrial city centre might not be the best spot to raise healthy chickens, the architects insist the structure will be more ‘animal-friendly’ than most traditional farms. Triangular glass windows offer them plenty of natural light, while solar panels on the roof will provide constant shade.
Goldsmith has designed the structure for the Floating Farm Holding company that also runs the dairy farm. And it seems the city may be getting a lot more local produce where that came from: the firm says these two unusual buildings are just the beginning of an extensive floating ‘food strip’.
So will this pioneering initiative prove as enduring as the rest of the city’s showpiece architecture? We’d like to think so.
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