Javier Fernández Ponce is currently obtaining a master in advanced architecture (MAA01) at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain. Javier found Planet Forward’s Storyfest 2016 contest online when searching for sustainability awards and innovation opportunities. For his submission, Javier created a video that focused on his own innovation, Smart Floating Farms.
We asked him a few questions to learn more about his entry.
Q: Describe your innovation in simple terms for those who have never heard of it.
A: (A floating farm is) a multi-layer floating platform capable of producing fresh and healthy food closer to our growing cities. Facing the current challenges of cities growing, land consumption and climate change, I believe projects like the Smart Floating Farms can help change some of the existing paradigms which have led us to the present situation, and open new possibilities which can improve the quality of human life and the environment. (A floating farm is) based on a floating platform multi-layered strategy which combines aquaculture (fish), hydroponics-aeroponics (crops) and photovoltaics (solar power & other renewable energies). We aim that these floating farms can be located close to areas where food is needed, causing a positive social and economical impact, with the potential of creating new emergent economies...
Q: According to your submission, your innovation was inspired by fish farms in Asia. Were there any other inspirations behind your innovation?
A: Once I was struck by this quote: "It is not about fashion, it is about survival." I have always been aware that as architects we have a crucial role and responsibility in society and that design has a major transformational potential. Apart from some visits to fish farming villages in Southeast Asia, I have been inspired by many other sources such as: The '60s projects and pioneers, environmental movements, authors, such as Jeremy Rifkin or David Harvey, watching climate change documentaries and specially by my memories of childhood while in my father's family coffee farms.
Q: If you had the opportunity to place your floating farms in any ocean or lake to start, where would you put it? Why?
A: It really depends on the location and local requirements. In (a) case of a flooding situation, like in Bangladesh ... it could be a helpful alternative solution to help feed people. In (a) case of countries where land is scarce and have massive imports, (such as) Singapore... it can be located closer to growing cities. But if I have to give an answer now, I'll say the starting location would be where food production for the society is more urgently required.
Q: What was the process behind creating your submission? Why did you choose to communicate your innovation through a video format?
A: I started a personal research on the food-risk subject some time ago, (and) started putting together some basic sketches of a potential floating design and started discussing the ideas with other people … Later on, I produced a first preliminary design which already incorporates the "multi-layer" logic, (or) the production of different types of food in a single multi-story platform. Some renders/images of the projects were produced and also a first preliminary investment summary, with the help of an MBA student with a background in economics.
I've always liked watching movies and thought the best way to make a story understandable in an easy way was to start producing a short video which described the process from inception to design solution.
Q: Why is your innovation so important to you? Why do you think it is one of the most essential methods to help sustainable cities?
A: The important thing is to make people think and aware of the logics and purpose behind my innovation, that we as humans in this planet should change our way of thinking … and also be exploring new alternative ways of producing and making food available to people today...
My vision is that in this "era of cities," people will be able to have access to other source of healthy food production closer to their homes, located in their nearest river, lake or sea water space. I aim to implement the smaller scale prototypes using low impact methods and materials, while integrating local communities in the process … (to) generate awareness and expand to other world areas and grow in scale.
(Editor's note: Answers edited for grammar and spelling.)