The Plug-In Ecology; Urban Farm Pod is a “living” cabin for individuals and urban nuclear families to grow and provide for their daily vegetable needs. It is an interface with the city, potentially touching upon urban farming, air quality levels, DIY agronomy techniques in test tubes, algal energy production, and bioluminescent light sources, to name a few possibilities. It can be outfitted with a number of optional systems to adapt to different locations, lighting conditions, and habitation requirements. While agricultural food sources are usually invisible in cities such as New York, the pod archetype turns the food system itself into a visible artifact, a bio-informatic message system, and a functional space.

The project sets out a direction for healthy biological exchanges with urban inhabitants, and to contribution to the life of urban ecosystems that mediate between autonomy and community.

The Plug-In Ecology cabin sphere prototype uses a robotic milled rotegrity ball for the under-grid structure made of reclaimed flat packed materials. A fully operable sub irrigation system and a shaped foam panels serve as sleeves for the potting elements and agronomy tissue culture for micropropagation. A digital monitoring platform relays information about specific plant health to the web.

Our vision for future iterations of the pod is to naturally grow structures over time, within a new form of mediated arboreal culture, to integrate the biological and mechanical elements more closely, to transform the object into one that grows and changes symbiotically.

Credits: PI, Mitchell Joachim

Team: Melanie Fessel, Christian Hubert, Maria Aiolova, Vivian Kuan, Amanda O’Keefe.

Research Fellows: Bahar Avanoglu, Ipek Avanoglu, Pedro Galindo-Landeira, Yinan Li, Brent Solomon, Jiachen Xu.

Consultants: Huy Buy, Greyshed. Photos: Micaela Rossato