Jellyfish Barge

A modular greenhouse mounted on a floating base, able to guarantee water and food security without impacting on existing resources. Pisa / Italy / 2014

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In a world where resources are increasingly scarce, how will we produce the food we need, where will we get fresh water and where to find new areas for cultivation?


A multidisciplinary team of architects and botanists offers a revolutionary answer to these questions. Jellyfish Barge is a floating agricultural greenhouse producing food without consuming land, fresh water or energy. It has been conceived for communities vulnerable to water and food scarcity and it is built with simple technologies and with low cost and recycled materials.


Jellyfish Barge is a is a multidisciplinary project coordinated by professor Stefano Mancuso (University of Florence), director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology (LINV; www.linv.net) and projected by the architects Antonio Girardi and Cristiana Favretto (Studiomobile; www.studiomobile.org).


The working prototype, realized by LINV (University of Florence) thanks to Veneto Vetro's glasses and the contribution of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and Regione Toscana, has been installed in the Navicelli canal between Pisa and Livorno and will be inaugurated on Friday, October 31, 2014 at 3:30 PM at the headquarters of Navicelli Spa, via della Darsena 3, Pisa.


The scenario


The World Bank predicts the grow of world population to almost 10 billion by the next four decades, thus in 2050 the global demand for food is expected to be 60-70% higher than today. Scarcity of water and cultivable land are the main obstacles to meet the quantitative and qualitative shifts of the world’s demand. Most of the potentially arable land is concentrated in a few geographical areas, while in many countries with high population growth, such as North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, it is extremely scarce.


Agriculture is the human activity that weighs more on the existing water resources and currently in many parts of the world like India, Pakistan and South Spain, the demand for water for agricultural purposes is satisfied by unsustainable methods such as over-extraction from underground reservoirs. The scarcity of land and water is being exacerbated by climate changes exposing many areas to risks and contributing to make them even more vulnerable to water and food security. The rise of sea level, for example, contributes to flood with salt-water extensive areas of fertile land. This phenomenon has already begun to occur with alarming frequency all over the Bay of Bengal.


The project


Jellyfish Barge is a modular greenhouse mounted on a floating base, able to guarantee water and food security without impacting on existing resources. The structure, built with low-cost technologies and simple materials, consists of a wooden base of about 70 square meters, floating on 96 recycled plastic drums, and a glass greenhouse supported by a wooden structure.
Fresh water is provided by 7 solar stills arranged along the perimeter, designed by the environmental scientist Paolo Franceschetti. They can produce up to 150 liters/day of clean fresh water from salt, brackish or polluted water. Solar distillation is a natural phenomenon: in the seas, the sun's energy evaporates water, which then falls as rain water. In Jellyfish Barge the solar desalination system replicates this phenomenon in small-scale, sucking moist air and forcing it to condense into drums in contact with the cold surface of the sea.


The low energy required to power fans and pumps is provided by systems exploiting renewable energy integrated in the structure.


The greenhouse incorporates an innovative hydroponic system. Hydroponics is a crop production technique using 70 % less water compared to traditional cultivation, thanks to the continuous re-use of water. In addition Jellyfish Barge uses about 15% of seawater, which is mixed with distilled water, ensuring even greater water efficiency. The system has an innovative automated system with remote monitoring and control.


Jellyfish Barge is innovative in its ability to respond effectively with limited resources. For this reason it has been designed relatively small in size, capable of supporting two about families, thus easy to build even in conditions of economic constrains. However, it is modular, so a single element is completely autonomous, while various flanked barges can guarantee food security for the whole community. The octagonal shape of the platform allows combining different modules by connecting them with square floating bases, which may become markets and meeting places of a small water community.


The team Jellyfish Barge will be produced by PNAT srl ( www.pnat.net ), a spin-off of the University of Florence. The team is composed by the director of LINV Stefano Mancuso, the researchers Camilla Pandolfi, Elisa Azzarello and Elisa Masi and architects Cristiana Favretto and Antonio Girardi, founders of Studiomobile. PNAT is the first Italian think tank merging design, science and biology to provide technological and creative solutions to the main sustainability concerns: in a planet with finite resources, how to ensure food security, access to water and how to guarantee the resilience of communities to environmental changes?


Credits


Coordination: Stefano Mancuso


Cultivation: Camilla Pandolfi, Elisa Azzarello and Elisa Masi


Project: Cristiana Favretto e Antonio Girardi


Sponsored by: Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and Regione Toscana


Glass: Veneto Vetro


More information: www.pnat.net; www.linv.org

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    In a world where resources are increasingly scarce, how will we produce the food we need, where will we get fresh water and where to find new areas for cultivation? A multidisciplinary team of architects and botanists offers a revolutionary answer to these questions. Jellyfish Barge is a floating agricultural greenhouse producing food without consuming land, fresh water or energy. It has been conceived for communities vulnerable to water and food scarcity and it is built with simple...

    Project details
    • Year 2014
    • Work finished in 2014
    • Status Completed works
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