Project no. 312
Engineering System Design: Aquaponic Urban
A. S. Larsen, T. B. Frederiksen, J. Knudsen, M. Rosholm, M. G. Møller and T.
DTU Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Currently, food is being produced and distributed from all over the world. Different types of
vegetables can only grow in certain climates and certain fish only live in specific bodies of
water. This system is inadequate for several reasons; firstly, in order to keep up with the
projections of the world’s population, close to 10 billion people in 2050, there is a need to
produce 70% more food. With the current traditional agricultural systems this is not possible.
Secondly, there is large amounts of food waste in some parts of the world, where other
parts are living in hunger. This requires the food distribution system to be changed. One of
the solutions to these issues can be aquaponics. Aquaponics is a technology combining
aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (soilless growing of vegetables). The two
ecosystems co-exist in symbiosis, with the plants living off the nutrients provided by the fish
and in return clean the water which goes back to the fish. By using aquaponics instead of
traditional agriculture, both fish and vegetables can be grown locally, saving transportation,
packaging and reducing water usage and CO2 emissions from several sources. Therefore,
this project aims to diffuse the concept of aquaponics.
The proposed design solution implements aquaponics in the context of an urban community
farm, to emphasise the social development. An urban community farm is meant in the idea
of a society where families grow, and harvest produce together in their local area. The
social experience combined with the urban community farm will help citizens understand the
problem with food production and distribution in the future and diffuse the idea of
aquaponics, within local communities. This helps to achieve some of the Sustainable
Development Goals set by the United Nations.
Community gardens and urban farming already exist, but this project has focused on
creating a new type of communal food production by using the term “urban community farm”
with focus on sustainable food production. The project aim, to diffuse the concept of
aquaponics, was sought to be obtained throughout different levels of the engineering
system. At the product level, the aim was to explore the possibilities of aquaponics and
develop a product concept to inspire people for changing the consumption patterns. At the
use level in the community, the current food system was analysed to find how aquaponics
could fit in. From an overall perspective, the global food production and distribution system
was investigated to understand the potential impact of aquaponic food production.
The concept of an aquaponic urban community farm was tested with users through
workshop and surveys including a prototype of an aquaponic growing module. All learnings
gained through the projects including user feedback, recommendations and tips were
combined into a booklet, serving as client material for anyone wanting to start an urban
community farm using aquaponics.