Urban agriculture has proven positive effects on social cohesion, but probably also on health, food security, climate change and the environment. Thereby, a new kind of city is crafted that amplifies energy flows, nourishes social networks and invigorates productive enterprise. From a design perspective, the integration of agriculture into urbanism improves the capacity of buildings, landscape, infrastructure and cities to generate outcome.

When urban agriculture is seen in the context of urban growth, opportunities challenging the way of life and food systems arise. Urban growth includes an expansion of cities which places a strain on the environment and its natural resources. For instance, one fourth of all agricultural land is significantly degraded as a result of this growth. Architects and urban planners alike are challenged to innovate for sustainable urban development.


In the project “Bijlmerbajes Vertical Farming”, a former prison known as the “Bijlmerbajes” was repurposed by student teams to design the ultimate urban greenhouse. The teams encouraged citizens to get involved with the production and consumption of their food to make it healthy and sustainable. In this student challenge, student teams from all over the world were asked to design disruptive innovations and ideas to respond to the developments in urban growth and agriculture.

Taken together, 24 teams from 30 universities in 10 countries united in this student challenge. The selected teams presented concepts and technologies for an “urban greenhouse”. including vertical farming, indoor farming and integrated growing systems such as aquaponics. The call was for food production ideas that had practical value in the urban environment and could integrate in local circular flows. The students were asked to reintroduce professional food production into neighborhoods by connecting it with local resource flows and smart energy systems. The Bijlmerbajes is an ideal location as the Bajes neighborhood faces redevelopment as a testbed and vibrant hub, where design and art are combined with the latest innovations in sustainable developments.

The student challenge allows to highlight the critical role of architectural and landscape design in tackling urban challenges. As such, the urban design challenge connects and strengthens technical, social and environmental resources for sustainable cities and urban food production.

Project Milestones and Finalists

The project was launched early 2018 with 24 international student teams. A selection of 15 teams then presented designs plans at the final symposium to select the ultimate and most innovative urban greenhouse concept. The GreenWURks team won with their “Open Bajes" plan, because their design is well-connected with attention for people, planet and profit and takes the history of the building into account. The jury praised that thoughts about financial feasibility of the plan and the mysterious interior spaces with a special visit of the building’s the tower

  • January 2018 - November 2018