Importing bananas to Paris has some major drawbacks. Shipping the yellow tropical fruit from the Caribbean Islands to to European cities adds a load of stress on the environment and is much more costly than shipping to the United States. However, SOA architects have dreamed up a solution in the form of a greenhouse project that will make the fruit more accessible to Parisians. The French architecture firm has conceptualized a cool urban vertical plantation to be built right in the heart of the city and are calling it the Urbanana.
Paris doesn’t boast a tropical, humid climate by any means; in fact, the weather is quite cool and overcast a lot of the time. These are obviously the exact opposite conditions that are needed to cultivate exotic fruits like the banana. This is just one of the reasons that makes Urbanana a great prospect for the densely populated city. The tropical fruit is also becoming much more expensive in the European market because of high transportation costs and ripening constraints.
The concept is meant to redefine and invigorate urban agriculture all while reducing food travel miles which most of know reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The building would be designed primarily for banana tree growth but would also function as an urban botanical garden or vertical park. The structure would be enclosed in glass walls, which would add some allure to the streets of the romantic city, and give passerby’s a peak at the interior filled with leafy banana trees.
Six floors of the building will be occupied with banana trees with natural light shining on the crops to encourage tree development and growth. Artificial light would also be needed to mimic the climates of the naturally muggy regions that bananas usually grow in like the tropics. A chain rotation system will be implemented and could be easily accessed from its internal bridges. The ground floor will be utilized as a research lab (for banana research?) and exhibition area for visitors.
Bananas are not only sought after for their potassium and mushy insides but also for their uses in cosmetics and other items like paper, art, textiles and even wines (banana wine?). According to the market trends in France, banana imports decreased 23% from the years 2002 to 2006.
Introducing this sort of sustainable urban project to a city with a low amount of agricultural land seems like a good idea in theory but of course, the glamour and chicness of it all could make it more of a fantasy than an environmental solution. This project is still in the initial stages and may never get off the ground but they certainly get an A+ for effort and creativity just for the name alone! What do you think about the Urbanana?