Urban Growth

Urban Growth
Analysis of crop consumption and development of a conceptual design to increase consumer adoption of vertical greenhouses.


The Master Thesis “Urban Growth” aimed to facilitate the implementation of innovative ways to produce food industrially in large cities by analyzing the consumer relation to food production, investigating possible interventions, and developing conceptual designs that could increase the consumer adoption. The project was carried out at the department of Product and Production Development at Chalmers University of Technology, and was performed by the Industrial Design Engineering students Ebba Hedenblad and Marika Olsson in collaboration with Plantagon International AB.

In order to meet a growing urban population along with an increasing food demand, a sustainable productivity improvement is necessary. Plantagon offers vertical greenhouses to be placed in the urban landscape that will allow an increased productivity through an automatized and industrial cultivation. This new type of food production could result in a closer relation between producers and consumers, and hence imply an expanded insight in and transparency for the production process. The project was initiated by a comprehensive user study that investigated the consumer relations to the innovation by mapping out the needs and demands of crop consumers in Swedish cities. Several factors, such as skepticism for greenhouses and industrially produced food, were identified as crucial to consider in the implementation of the vertical greenhouses.

With a foundation in theory about adoption of innovations and new food production methods, interventions to meet the consumer requirements were developed and analyzed. The intervention of providing the consumer a possibility to try the technology was recognized as most suitable for the project and was further developed into a mini cultivation system. The Plantera is an automated system for the cultivation of a plant that opens up for user interaction, with pedagogical meaning, to explain the benefits of industrial greenhouse production.

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