The future is algae.
Algae is making the jump from your pond to your plate.
Nutrient rich, protein packed, and air-cleaning, it can grow just about anywhere.
Now, Ikea’s Copenhagen-based innovation lab, Space10, is on a mission to make it the future of food.
The Algae Dome was unveiled this month as part of the CHART art fair, but it’s not just striking in looks – it’s a savvy new farming solution.
The 4m high structure supports what’s called a ‘photo-bioreactor’ – a system designed to grow microalgae in large batches.
This includes 320m of tubing coiled around the dome’s walls (in which green microalgae blossoms), and is capable of producing a whopping 450 litres of algae in just a few days.
Architects Aleksander Wadas, Rafal Wroblewski, Anna Stempniewicz, and bioengineer Keenan Pinto created the space with a more sustainable future in mind.
Not only is algae rich in vitamins and minerals (containing twice the protein of meat), it reduces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
What’s more, it’s tough: it’s the fastest growing plant organism, and can thrive even in harsh environments with polluted water – you can imagine the impact such a system could have in food shortages and disaster relief situations.
It’s not the first time Space10 has reimagined what our future farms should be.
Earlier this year it presented the Growroom – a beautiful room-sized orb that will let you grow your own vegetables from home.
And the trend for shunning conventional farming in favour of more personal urban plots, is something that will continue to rise – who wants to pours chemicals into the ground, to generate just a few harvests a year, knowing full-well that 30% of it will spoil before reaching your plate?
Localised food-growing ideas range from London’s floating Farmopolis bar, giant ‘vertical farms‘, and dreamy concepts like the rotating seaside Ring Garden. Even the buildings we live in are being designed to incorporate more green growing, with architects like Stefano Boeri leading the way.
Eventually you’ll have your own mini-fridge garden in the kitchen, food futurist Dr Morgaine Gaye told The Memo last year.
“Think about the possibility of an integrated system – a bit like a fridge – where different herbs and vegetables are growing and you pluck them from the vending machine,” she says.
When it comes to future food, it’s only going to get more personal.
We can’t wait to see more ideas like the Algae Dome bloom.