Grow Humber is a community center for vertical farming, cooking, and dining, with the aim of enhancing the wellbeing of Humber College students, reducing food insecurities on campus and the surrounding area, and promoting environmental sustainability among younger generations. The research behind this design is rooted in environmental and social issues. The goal is to improve mental and physical health through socialization, food education, and nutrition; strengthen communities by increasing social ties and ecological engagement; and most importantly, create a global impact by reducing food insecurities, optimizing growth, and lowering agricultural carbon footprints.
The conceptual approach for this project began with the idea of connectivity and explored how it could be used in a space to build human connections, connect individuals to the community and create a lasting connection to the environment. The environmental connection led to the concept of topography, which is the graphic delineation on maps or charts that illustrates the connections and relationships between natural and manmade environments. This concept reinforces the idea behind vertical farming, as the practice itself is a unique combination of natural and manmade elements in order to bring growth to cities. This concept is translated spatially through radial connections, free flowing design and elements of layering.
The selected site for this project is the Humber Centre for Justice Leadership, located at 3120 Lakeshore Blvd, in Etobicoke. The site has a strong connection to Humber Lakeshore Campus, green space and natural views. The planning process involved exploring points of connection between different spaces and how they radiate and flow off of one another. The plan uses circles and rounded edges to highlight this radial effect. Key spaces in the plan include: reception, lobby, washrooms, café and market, event and education, vertical farm, social kitchen, back of house kitchen and communal dining area.
The key spaces as shown in the 3D renderings include the vertical farm, the social kitchen and the communal dining area. The vertical farm houses hydroponic growing towers and is temperature and light controlled, with purple LED lights critical to indoor plant growth. There are two entrances, a spacious walkway surrounding it, and built in bench seating to view the farm from all angles. Once users of the space have gathered their desired produce, they would head to the communal kitchen to participate in group cooking classes and workshops. The cooking studio is equipped with a viewing and tasting bar counter, individual cooking stations, and shared storage and appliances. The dining area is where guests can enjoy their freshly prepared meals and socialize with fellow students and members of the community. The space features integrated vertical farming elements, with built in planters and a hydroponic tower center feature.