Amsterdam, The Netherlands. With 20% of Amsterdam’s office space lying vacant and undesired, this project explores the potential of adaptive reuse in a site called the Parool Triangle. It is an urban site along the Wibautstraat that gets its unusual triangular shape from an old railway junction and its name from the previous use as a newspaper headquarters. This design proposes to brand the site “GREEN”, giving it a new and unique identity, including the reuse of the 13-story Parool Tower as a hybrid vertical farm and hotel.

The south half of the Parool Tower has excellent solar exposure, ideal for renovation as a hydroponic, vertical farm. The north side of the Parool Tower provides an optimum location for a hotel. The excellent views north create a connection to the city center, the narrow floor plate offers the ideal size for hotel rooms, and the “green” activity of the site provides a destination, feeding the eco-tourism industry and serving the library/research center that will be in the previous Trouw building. Because urban horticulture is a relatively new concept, this complex serves as a research center for the development, experimentation, and education of this new industry.

On the lower floors of the Parool Tower, where the views and direct light are not ideal, new hostel concept is employed. The hostel would host long-term visitors, and provide room and board in exchange for working at the vertical farm. This offers an excellent location for travelers, capitalizes on the tourism industry, and serves as a natural way to promote and spread the ideas and practices of urban farming throughout the world.

RECEPTION: the hybrid programs create a rich mixing of travelers, locals, farmers, and Amsterdam inhabitants

HOTEL: supports the economic viability of the vertical farm, serves the conference / research center in the library, and feeds the eco-tourism trend

FARM: produces high quality, fresh produce that can be sold in the local grocery store, used at the cafe or restaurant, or further distributed

ORCHARD: provides fruit trees as well as an urban park with 360 degree views of the Amsterdam skyline

GREENHOUSE: exposition of urban farming techniques, ideal for field trips, picking your own produce and events

This form of urban horticulture could benefit the city in many ways, such as:

  • providing fresh, local, and diverse produce for the community
  • creating a reliable source of food, not subject to the weather and environmental damage
  • reducing the distance of food distribution, saving resources involved in transportation & refrigeration
  • improving the urban dwellers physical and psychological relationship to their food
  • providing an urban location for education and research
  • using gathered heat from the farm to help heat neighboring spaces
  • the plants clean and improve the air quality, which can be used in neighboring spaces
  • the hydroponic system uses significantly less water than traditional farming while yielding up to 20 times more produce, per square meter
  • eliminating the use of most fertilizers, pesticides and thus harmful agricultural runoff
  • protects the diminishing natural landscape from the disruption of traditional field farming

Additionally, the hybrid combination of a hotel/hostel and agriculture is beneficial in the mechanical system. The greenhouse will naturally collect a significant amount of heat, which can be drawn through a heat exchanger and used for radiant heat flooring, or warm water use. In the summer months, the excess heat will be drawn into an aquifer, below ground, where the heat can be stored for use in the colder months. At the same time, the plants of the greenhouse will naturally clean and purify the air, which can be used throughout the rest of the building.