VERTICAL FARMING - Investigation on requirements of a Vertical Farm-prototype development for crop plant production

In the center of interest stands the investigation of fundamental principles for a new building typology – the Vertical Farm. Urban vertical food production can contribute to more energy efficient cities by concurrently reducing land use. Substantial influencing factors to achieve these goals are intended to be revealed.

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

Increasing urbanisation and strong population growth with increasingly higher demand on fresh and high-quality food - produced environmentally friendly and in a sustainable manner - requires new solutions regarding crop cultivation and a strong programmatic densification of urban areas. One of these solutions is a resilient and liveable urban design through intensification in urban vertical food production. Strong reductions in land consumption for urban food production and an increase in the overall energy efficiency of cities have to be achieved.

For this purpose, the Institute for Buildings and Energy, Graz University of Technology together with the vertical farm institute in Vienna has set up a multidisciplinary consortium partnership with the Department of Crop Science, Division of Vegetables and Ornamentals at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna and SIEMENS as the industrial partner.

Content and goals

This exploratory study is defined as the preparation for a prototypical Vertical Farm in Vienna. The main research goal is to unveil the principles which are essential to develop a Vertical Farm within an urban context beyond a cooperative R&D-project. Investigations within this project are touching all crucial influencing parameters in plant physiology as well as typological questions which are related to architectural questions. Climatic conditions, conceptual investigations in building services as well as communication technology and control engineering make part of this exploratory research project.


Based on a crop catalogue which will be developed for this project, cultivation methods and growing conditions get elaborated and translated as required indoor climate conditions, serving the simulation software so that the energy performance of the Vertical Farm can be evaluated. Based on the crop needs, basic typological parameters get developed and evaluated. The building form with the most promising potentials sequentially gets developed and more deeply investigated on energy consumption.

The building concept will be sketched by requirements such as construction, fire safety, building physics, energy performance and building services. A concept for building services will be developed based on

  • heating and cooling supply,
  • ventilation,
  • lighting,
  • power supply,
  • elevator technology,
  • sanitary devices,
  • communication technology and
  • control engineering.

These determining data and numbers enable to reveal the possibility to quantify the potential of Vertical Farming, especially in terms of resource efficiency. Sustainability aspects related to ecology, economy and sociology will be outlined.

Expected results

The focus on Vertical Farming within this exploratory study is based on the consortium's decision to aim for a realization - towards a „proof of concept" within a cooperative R&D-project - of a Hyperbuilding, a building typology which unifies food production, apartments and offices.

The central idea behind it is to bring to light synergetic interactions between the functions mentioned above. Remarkable potentials are presumed regarding an increase of the overall energy efficiency throughout urban decentralized food production. In particular the question wants to be answered to which extend energy flows between these three functions could be complemented and to quantify the resulting synergies.

This research project delivers an essential contribution to highlight the potentials to increase the energy efficiency by implementing an intensification of food production through Vertical Farming in the urban environment. The research activity in plant physiology to determine ideal growing conditions, typological investigations and energy studies allow sketching basic requirements to develop this new building typology.

Project Partners

Project Management

Mag.arch.Dr.techn. Daniel Podmirseg, Institute for Buildings and Energy, Graz University of Technology

Project or cooperation partners

  • vertical farm institute, Vienna
  • Department of Crop Sciences (DNW), Division of Vegetables and Ornamentals, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
  • SIEMENS AG, Vienna

Contact Address

Daniel Podmirseg
Windmühlgasse 9/23
A-1060 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 20 88 635