Architecture

Agri-Cube grows mass quantities of vegetables in a one-car parking spot

Agri-Cube grows mass quantitie...
Bountiful harvest fills the trays of a Daiwa Agri-Cube prefab garden factory
Bountiful harvest fills the trays of a Daiwa Agri-Cube prefab garden factory
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Prefab Agri-Cube being placed on a prepared site
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Prefab Agri-Cube being placed on a prepared site
Bountiful harvest fills the trays of a Daiwa Agri-Cube prefab garden factory
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Bountiful harvest fills the trays of a Daiwa Agri-Cube prefab garden factory
Community member tending the Agri-Cube's crops
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Community member tending the Agri-Cube's crops
History of a lettuce crop in the Agri-Cube
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History of a lettuce crop in the Agri-Cube
External view of the 11.7 square meter Agri-Cube E garden factory
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External view of the 11.7 square meter Agri-Cube E garden factory
External view of the 10.1 square meter Agri-Cube S garden factory
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External view of the 10.1 square meter Agri-Cube S garden factory

Daiwa House, Japan's largest homebuilder, has introduced a line of prefabricated hydroponic vegetable factories, aimed at housing complexes, hotels, and top-end restaurants. Called the Agri-Cube, these units are touted by Daiwa as the first step in the industrialization of agriculture, to be located in and amongst the places where people live, work, and play.

More and more people desire sustainable, organic produce for their own use, and are turning to urban farming in an effort to insure the highest degree of freshness. However, some municipalities, neighborhoods, and homeowners associations have rules that effectively block such endeavors in areas under their sway. Add drought and pest control to the picture, and suddenly urban farming may seem more trouble than it is worth. There is a growing need for local supplies of freshly grown produce that avoids the difficulties presented by conventional small farms and gardens.

External view of the 11.7 square meter Agri-Cube E garden factory
External view of the 11.7 square meter Agri-Cube E garden factory

This is where the Agri-Cube comes in. Measuring less than five meters (about 16 feet) in length and 2.5 meters (about 8 feet) wide, Daiwa's Agri-Cubes are smaller than a twenty-foot equivalent shipping container. An Agri-Cube can be brought to an installation site on the bed of a light heavy-duty truck. A concrete foundation about 10 square meters (108 square feet) in size must be prepared before delivery, along with plumbing and electrical utility hookups. Daiwa claims each Agri-Unit can grow about ten thousand servings of fruits and vegetables each year at an operations cost of about US$4,500, which corresponds to only 45 US cents per head of lettuce.

An Agri-Cube is designed to require little maintenance or attention to the hydroponic and lighting systems. It is delivered ready to use, with all the hydroponic equipment, air conditioning to maintain ideal growing temperatures, a heat-exchanging ventilation system, and special growth lights to encourage faster plant growth installed and functioning. The basic structure is a steel frame building, with anti-rust treatment and floor, wall, and ceiling insulation. Solar panels and air curtains (to better maintain the controlled environment) are available as options.

Community member tending the Agri-Cube's crops
Community member tending the Agri-Cube's crops

Initially, Agri-Cubes will be marketed to the food service industry. Daiwa intends to extend that focused niche market to include apartment houses and other housing complexes, neighborhood co-ops of perhaps ten households, small-scale stores, and local organic food suppliers.

A video from DigInfo TV appears below that will give a clear overview of the makeup of an Agri-Cube.

Beginning at a price of $70,000, the Agri-Cube may soon be dispensing fresh fruit and vegetables in your neighborhood.

Source: Daiwa House (Google translation), DigInfo TV

agri-cube compact hydroponic unit produces 10,000 vegetables per year #DigInfo

31 comments
Michael Mantion
$70k seriously? you could build the same thing out of wood for 3k with the ac and lights. The solar panels are simply stupid, why not just put a sky light in. The solar panels system most likely ads 5k to the price.
Slowburn
A skylight is thermally inefficient, leaks, doesn't illuminate the bottom shelf, and makes for an easier route for unlawful entry.
DemonDuck
$70,000 buys a lot of lettuce.
L1ma
@ Michael Mantion A second power supply for your refrigerator is not a bad thing.
Martinkudu
Might make sense in Japanese cities, but would be uneconomic in most other parts of the world.
Rasto Ha
1) $70,000 for one unit?! 2) operations cost 45 US cents per head of lettuce?! Not quite cost effective either...
MBadgero
An inefficient greenhouse. The nice-looking, white, sunlit wall should be glass. The solar panels on the roof are for looks. Sunlight coming in through glass is at least five times as efficient as running lights with solar panels.
Guy Macher
Plant density is well below that of commercial greenhouses. Capital cost is stupidly expensive. MBadgero is correct; this is an inefficient greenhouse. Yeah, it'll grow vegetables but not many and they will be affordable only by NBA stars.
HDaigneault
hm. http://vancouver.designnerds.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/150114377_b3e1ea44e1.jpg
Markcox
We already have our own home grown Valcent or as now, Alterrus quoted on the Toronto Stock Exchange and here in the US. They explored doing vertical trays and discovered they could produce about 20 times what a farmer can produce in a given area and only use a fraction of the water. The economics are astounding which explains why these things are beginning to expand as fast as they are.