Fish from the Sky: An Aquaponics Dome on Every Roof

Photo: Good

Having enough food to go around has always been a vexing issue for humanity, and while modern agriculture has greatly stabilized our food supply, it comes with a host of negative environmental consequences. Meanwhile, it is estimated that the world population will be over 9 billion people by 2050. More than half of those people will live in urban areas. So, how can we produce food in an economical and ecologically sustainable fashion as we shift away from agrarian societies?

Enter the GLOBE (hedron) geodesic dome. This rooftop structure will house fish and plants, growing in harmony to nourish each other. It utilizes aquaponics, a marriage of aquaculture (fish cultivation) and hydroponics (soil-free, water-based agriculture). What makes aquaponics innovative is its closed-loop recycling of wastewater from fish tanks to fertilize plants. After absorbing the nutrients, clean aerated water returns back to the fish tanks and the cycle repeats again.

Recirculating aquaponics systems are relatively uncommon in the U.S., but in Australia, frequent drought and DIY enthusiasm have propelled aquaponics into a bona fide movement. It’s easy to see why, when you compare the costs and benefits of an aquaponics system to conventional methods. A single five-foot tower can produce over 200 heads of lettuce a year, while using 80-90% less water than a conventional soil-based system. Aquaponics systems are compact, cheap to construct, and require no fertilizers or pesticides.

The GLOBE (hedron) project is still in its prototyping phase, but could transform aquaponics from a niche gardening exercise to a mainstream urban farming system. The creators promise a bountiful harvest of 400 kg of vegetables and 100 kg of fish each year, providing food for 16 people. Insulating panels would ensure year-round production, even in cooler weather. The dome is designed for easy shipping and assembly, and will be constructed with renewable materials where possible, like bamboo.

Do you have a flat, unused roof that you’d be willing to install an aquaponics dome on? Would you be willing to get your hands wet in return for hyper-fresh veggies and seafood? The GLOBE (hedron) dome is wonderfully creative alternative to our current food system, and we’re excited to see where it progresses. For more information, you can check out the GLOBE (hedron) campaign.