What is better than a living roof? A living roof that you can eat!
In cities all over the world flat roofs of all shapes and sizes are being transformed from dead space into rooftop family, restaurant, community and commercial farms. Grow your own, grow local, eat healthily, reduce food insecurity, recycle food waste, reduce run-off and fight climate change – the benefits are endless. Urban rooftop farms are here to stay.
So far the UK has been slow to pick-up on the massive potential of urban farming. But we believe that when people see what has been achieved across the world over the last decade, Brits will be keen to get on board. Prepare to be inspired by the world’s magnificent seven rooftop farms.
The current world record holders / most notable are, as of November 2020:
- What is the largest urban rooftop farm in the World? Ville Saint-Laurent, Canada (15,000 sq. metres)
- What is the highest rooftop farm in the World? Bank of America Tower, Hong Kong (39th story)
- What is the most spectacular rooftop farm? Thammasat University, Thailand
- What is the most innovative restaurant rooftop farm? Fairmont Singapore
- What is the largest rooftop farm in Europe? Agripolis, France (4,000 sq. metres)
- What is the largest rooftop farm in Asia? Thammasat University (22,000/7,000 sq. metres) or Chongqing rooftop farm, China (10,000 sq. metres)
- What is the largest urban rooftop greenhouse / hydroponic farm? Ville Saint-Laurent
- What is the largest rooftop open-air / soil farm in the World? Sunset Park Farm, USA (13,000 sq. metres)
Thammasat University Rooftop Farm (TURF) – world’s most spectacular Rooftop Farm
Where: Thailand, Near Bankok
How big: 22,000 sq. metres. 7,000 sq. metres grows food
Notability: Asia’s largest rooftop farm, world’s most spectacular
Atop: Thammasat University
Designed by: Kotchakorn Voraakhom of LANDPROCESS
This fabulous terraced farm occupies previously wasted roof space atop Thammasat University. It grows 40 different edible species including rice, vegetables, herbs and fruit Food, providing the university students with 80,000 meals per year. The spectacular network of terraces controls the flow of water in a cascade system claimed to be 20 times more efficient than the run off of conventional concrete rooftops.
Ville Saint-Laurent – world's biggest rooftop greenhouse / farm
Where: Canada, Montreal
How big: 15,000 sq. metres
Notability: world’s largest rooftop farm / greenhouse
Atop: disused Sears Canada warehouse
Built and operated by: Lufa Farms
Officially opened in August 2020, the Ville Saint-Laurent greenhouse is – currently – the largest rooftop farm in the world by surface area. At 15,000 sq. metres it is equivalent to 60 full-sized UK allotments. It produces over 11,000kg of food per week – mostly tomatoes. This is the fourth giant rooftop greenhouse Lufa Farms has built since 2010, but this one is as big as the other three put together. All four glasshouses are hydroponic, recycling all water, use natural pest control and compost on site. Across the four greenhouses Lufa grows 100 different types of veg and delivers 17,000 vegetable boxes each week. The collective output is sufficient for Lufa to supply Montreal with 2% of their fresh vegetables. (The accompanying video is shot in a different greenhouse.)
Bank of America Tower – world’s highest rooftop farm
Where: Hong Kong
How big: 93 sq. metres
Notability: Highest rooftop farm in the world
Atop: Bank of America Tower – 39th floor
Built / operated by: Rooftop Republic
This container garden is found on the 39th floor in Hong Kong’s financial district, some of the most expensive real-estate in the world, on a disused helicopter landing pad. We believe this is the world’s highest (off the ground), proving altitude is no obstacle to rooftop farming. At 93 sq. metres, the garden is a minnow compared with e.g. Lufa, but shows what can be achieved even in a smaller space. Rooftop gardens are increasingly popular in high-rise and densely populated Hong Kong, as shown in this video, starting with the Bank of America Tower rooftop farm.
Sunset Park Farm - world’s largest soil rooftop farm
Where: USA, New York, Brooklyn
How big: 13,000 sq. metres
Notability: biggest rooftop soil farm in world
Atop: Liberty View building
Built and operated by: Brooklyn Grange
Sunset Park Farm is the newest of three giant rooftop farms run by Brooklyn Grange, a commercial farming business. It was the world’s largest rooftop farm until Lufa opened Ville Saint-Laurent. It remains the world’s largest rooftop farm growing food in a soil substrate (like a traditional farm). The other North American giants Lufa Farms and Gotham Greens grow food hydroponically, in soil-less systems. Collectively Brooklyn Grange’s three farms grow over 45,000kg of organically-cultivated produce per year. (This video is filmed on at one of Brooklyn Grange’s other farms).
Fairmont Singapore – most innovative restaurant rooftop farm
How big: 450 sq. metres
Notability: innovative restaurant rooftop farm
Atop: Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford
Built and operated by: the hotel.
Restaurants worldwide are realising the advantages of serving ultra-fresh and ultra-local food to their clientele. But the rooftop farm betwixt the Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford hotels takes home-grown to a whole new level with a highly innovative rooftop fish and vegetable farm using aquaponics. Aquaponics is a closed water recycling system that grows plants in water that has housed fish – the plants benefit from the fish waste and microbes, while cleaning the water so it can be returned to the fish tanks. The farm is capable of delivering 30% of vegetable and 10% of fresh fish required by its two Hotels. (Note: the rooftop aquaponics farm was pioneered by LokDepot aquaponics farm in Basel in 2012).
Agripolis: Europe’s largest rooftop farm
Where: France, Paris
How big: 4,000 sq. metres
Notability: Biggest in Europe
Atop: Paris Exhibition Centre
Built and operated by: Agripolis
Newly opened Agripolis is built on the Paris Exhibition Centre in south-west Paris. The farm currently covers an area of 4,000 sq. metres, making it the largest in Europe, ahead of Zuidpark in Amsterdam, Netherlands (at 3000 sq. metres). It hopes to expand to 14,000 sq. metres by 2022, making it bigger than Sunset Park Farm, but smaller than Ville Saint-Laurent. The farm’s growing methods include vertical aeroponic farming where the plants grow in columns with the roots suspended in air inside the column where they are frequently watered by a nutrient rich mist or shower in a closed cycle watering system. Agripolis hopes to produce around 1,000kg of fruit and vegetables every day in high season.
Chongqing rooftop farm – biggest in China (and arguably in Asia)
Where: China, Chongqing
How big: 10,000 sq. metres
Notability: Biggest in China
Atop: a factory that makes doors
Operated by: factory employees
Rooftop farms are increasingly popular in the vast cities of China. At a claimed 10,000 sq. metres, this farm on top of a door-making factory in Chongqing, Southwest China, appears to be the biggest. Depending on how you measure Thammasat University Rooftop Farm, Chongqing could claim to be the largest in Asia. It includes paddy fields, pond, livestock and a few peacocks, and has a tractor to help with the farming – which all suggests this is a very substantial factory roof. It is farmed by factory workers.