Vegetables from Amsterdam

Johan Huizingalaan/Henk Sneevlietweg
NwA Architecten
Dit project is opgenomen in de route 'Farming the City', gemaakt voor de architectuur-app UAR.
Commercieel, Groen

City nursery in former typewriter factory

The former IBM typewriter factory on Johan Huizingalaan in the area of Slotervaart, built in 1974 to a design by architects D van Mourik and JW du Pon, became obsolete in the last decades of the 20th century due to the rise of the personal computer. In 2000, IBM sold the building, which has remained mostly vacant since.

If the people behind Greenlung get their way, this former factory will soon be transformed into a high-tech city nursery, as part of the Vegetables from Amsterdam project. Greenlung is an Amsterdam-based company that focuses on sustainable green development, particularly on the green re-use of empty office buildings. Abandoned office buildings are a significant and persistent urban problem; in Amsterdam, around 17 percent of office space is vacant. In total this adds up to 1.3 million square meters and, according to the local council, about half this will never be used as office space again.

For the project Vegetables from Amsterdam, Greenlung works with PlantLab, an engineering firm specialising in scientific and hi-tech approaches to plant breeding. Using the knowledge and expertise gathered by this agency, empty offices can be kitted out as city farms, with minimal structural work. Subsequently, vegetables can be grown in offices in the same way as in glasshouses, but with less energy loss and less light pollution.

The construction of such urban farms could eventually contribute to a more local and sustainable food production cycle, with a smaller footprint, fewer transport movements and reduced energy consumption. But whether or not the old typewriter factory gets a second life as a vegetable farm remains to be seen. Negotiations aimed at enabling this pioneering work are underway. (Cities/ARCAM)