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  Consult   Design   Present

High Performance Sustainable Polyculture Agriculture
May 2011

Polydome is a revolutionary approach to greenhouse agriculture that offers the possibility of commercial scale, net-zero-impact food production.

The Polydome system strategically interweaves a wide variety of crops and animals, taking advantage of every inch of the greenhouse while eliminating the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

With its high yields (60 – 90 kg per square meter), and diverse outputs (over 50 crops, two mushroom varieties, chickens, eggs, fish, and honey), even a small Polydome system can provide a richly varied food supply for a large population.

It is estimated that by using Polydome, even cities as densely populated as New York City could provide the majority of their own food supply using available roof space. A less dense city like Rotterdam could provide an estimated 80% of its food needs using only 3% of its surface area.

Polydome was made possible due to the support of InnovationNetwork and SIGN.



How does Polydome work?

Productive ecosystems
Though it uses advanced greenhouse technology, Polydome’s true inventiveness lies in a non-technological strategy: it maximizes food production and variety by operating more like a self-maintaining ecosystem than an industrial farm.

Symbiotic systems
While greenhouses generally produce only one kind of crop, Polydome is a polyculture system with many crops and livestock growing at once. Plants, crops, animals, and insects are strategically interwoven to connect waste, water, and energy flows and capture the benefts of varied space and light conditions. Animals within the system range freely and live naturally, while the design of the crop layout limits the need for repetitive human labor.

Modular system
The main design challenge behind Polydome was the creation of successful “crop clusters,” groups of interacting plants that use space and nutrients to maximum effect. These crop clusters are like interchangeable Lego blocks, with many functional combinations that can be mixed and matched depending on the desired output of the greenhouse and local market demand.

Environmental Benefits
Depending on the mix of crops and animals, Polydome systems can be fully zero-waste. Plant waste is reused as mulch, compost, or fish feed, while animal wastes are processed into plant nutrient supplements. Rather than shading plants using mechanical screens, shade-loving plants are intercropped below plants with a high demand for direct sunlight.

Mushroom cultivation, chickens, and composting provide supplemental CO2 rather than generators or the combustion of fossil fuels. Using temporal and spatial stacking, companion planting, and the layering of soil crops with hydroponically-grown crops, the Polydome design allows for greater production density than in any other cultivation method.

A Community Asset
On a socio-economic level, the model shows that this system is highly profitable. It allows for high-density production, the capture of several high-value niche markets, and savings on technological inputs. Rather than focusing on the large-scale production of a single, relatively valuable crop (tomatoes, peppers), Polydome produces many high value crops that usually have a limited local market (herbs, mushrooms, berries).

Potential for Urban Agriculture
Polydome produces many high value crops that usually have a limited local market (herbs, mushrooms, berries). By combining a Polydome system with a shop or restaurant, food can be sold directly to customers. Shrinking the distance between producer and consumer also translates into higher profits. Polydome also provides possibilities for urban agriculture that with traditional systems might not be feasible or desirable.

Polydome is designed to last a minimum of 30 years, largely because it relies on many perennial crops that do not need to be replanted every year. This means that an investment can be made in its physical structure and appearance, ensuring that it provides a positive aesthetic contribution to the built environment.

Sustainable Agriculture
Polydome systems are a step towards truly sustainable agriculture: they produce high quality food efficiently and locally while creating environmental benefits and caring for human and animal welfare. They provide a realistic way of doubling our food production by 2050 while reducing the overall impact of agriculture.

Want to know more? Download the full project book here (right-click and choose 'save as...'), or see more sustainability projects.

click to enlarge

Polydome Greenhouse Supermarket Daycare
Polydome Impression

Polydome Greenhouse Crop Clusters
Crop Clusters

Polydome Greenhouse Crop Clusters
Climate Cluster Groups
Polydome Greenhouse Material Flow Diagram
Material Flow Diagram

Polydome Greenhouse Price Scatter
Price/Yield Scatter Plot

Polydome Greenhouse Supermarket Daycare
Polydome Greenhouse

  Polydome services

Except provides the following services for Polydome development:

  • Custom Polydome System Design
  • Regional Market Assessment
  • Crop Cluster Consulting
  • (Urban) Greenhouse Development
  • Local Stakeholder Analysis

Local optimization
Polydome systems can be optimized for profitability, closed material flows, crop output, or a number of other factors.

Each Polydome system needs to be custom designed to suit local market and climactic conditions. Using extensive plant databases and the Polydome design approach, agriculture systems can be developed suited to various needs.

  In the news
Interview with Eva Gladek by John Thackara about Polydome
"Dutch Polydome Could Be Used to Provide the Majority of NYC’s Food"
"Polydome sustainable rooftop ecosystem could feed NYC"
City Farmer News:
"Using Polydome, even New York City could provide the majority of its own food supply using available roof space."
Agriculture News:
Polydome: Towards Net Zero Impact Food Production - Except Integrated Sustainability
  Polydome Documentation

For a quick and handy overview of Polydome, download the:

>> 4 Page Polydome Overview PDF

The Polydome research report, with over 80 pages of details, is downloadable in its entirety here:

>> Polydome Research Report

(right-click to download, 16mb PDF)

Except Project Team:

Direction and Concept:
Eva Gladek
Tom Bosschaert

Core Research:

Ariana Bain
Eva Gladek

Stephanie Bartscht
Rebecca Blum
Stephanie Carlisle
Jacob Verhaart

Polydome was made possible with the support of InnovationNetwork and SIGN.

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Redevelopment of a greenhouse industrial agriculture district >>
Symbiosis in Design

Symbiosis in Design
Systainability Methodology

Integrated sustainable development method used to create Polydome >>
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  Creative Commons

As per our company mission, we hope Polydome will contribute to a sustainable society.

By licensing our work under creative commons we allow you to use, copy and distribute our work without permission.

Therefore Polydome has been released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license.

Creative Commons