|Architect's rendering for "farmscraper" project in Shenzhen, China|
Growing urban populations in the next few decades will mean greater pressures on agricultural production, water use and soil health. One potential solution that's been bandied around are vertical farms, though it's debatable whether they're just a pie in the sky -- or necessarily made feasible once stagnating rates of future food production, rising energy costs and soil degradation are finally factored in. Undaunted by the debate, French design firm Vincent Callebaut Architects recently unveiled another urban vertical "farmscraper" masterplan concept, this time for the expanding city of Shenzhen, China. Dubbed Asian Cairns, the project consists of six towers of pebble-like structures that have been stacked together to create a productive, mixed-use project.