The roof and 6th floor of De Schilde, a former Philips factory in The Hague, has recently made way for Europe's largest aquaponics rooftop farm. Representing the second rooftop farm from Urban Farmers AG, a company based in Basel, Switzerland, the company commissioned Space&Matter to complete the design.
The construction consists of a 1200 sqm greenhouse on the rooftop and 900 sqm of space for fish cultivation on the floor below. Together, they form a perfect symbiotic system for fish and vegetable production within the city, in which the dirty water from the fish tanks is pumped into the planter beds to feed the plants, which in turn filter the water for the fish. Both floors also house irrigation systems, technical installations and fish and vegetable processing rooms. Meanwhile, a rooftop terrace allows visitors to experience this spectacular building and its stunning views of the city.
The dimensions of the greenhouse are aligned to the structure and the architecture of the existing building. The typical shape of the greenhouse roofline has been retained because it is part of the strong UrbanFarmers identity and emphasises the new use of de Schilde as an urban farming hotspot. By leaving a distinct gap between the existing building and the new addition, both entities can be read separately but also as a new tectonic unity, thereby respecting the architectural quality of the former 1959 telephone and television factory, designed by D. Roosenburg.
De Schilde is not just a one off. Urban Farmers AG has already started the development of their next urban farms in Switzerland and the Netherlands, thus demonstrating that the company has found a viable business model for urban farming 35m above ground level. This concept has exciting implications for the future city. By utilising its underused roofs, urban farms will greatly increase a city’s productive capacity. Furthermore, it will bring food production and processing back into the urban realm and closer to its citizens. On top of that, the Dutch roofscape will soon be enriched by many more beautiful greenhouses.