Germany: Using vertical farms to replace Berlin’s 'controversial' motorway?

Costing 200,000 euros per meter to construct, the 3.2-kilometer (1.9-mile) extension of Berlin’s motorway ring road was always controversial. If completed, it would bring 130,000 cars per day to south and east Berlin by 2022.

As the political will to act on the climate crisis builds, the extension is starting to look like an expensive and ugly mistake. Morgenfarm offers a utopian vision for Berlin’s infrastructure where toxic fumes are replaced by green space and healthy vegetables.

Berlin’s A100 motorway partially circles the inner city. It was constructed as part of a campaign in the 1960s to make Germany’s capital a ‘car-friendly city.’ The southeastern extension from Sonnenallee and Treptower Park has been the target of several protests. Now, a new concept would turn the excavated path of the motorway into a vertical farm. The proposal hopes to inspire city dwellers to envision what’s possible when urban planners stop prioritizing cars.

Campaign leader Perttu Ratilainen is convinced that the ‘Autobahn’ belongs to a bygone era. “It feels like we are stuck in the 60s when you hear about new motorways being built. Surely we have progressed since then?” Developed by non-profit ‘Think and Do Tank’ Paper Planes e.V., this farm would save water and energy plus reduce the need for long haul transportation involved in conventional agriculture.

Another crisis this project could address is the housing shortage in Berlin. With the Autobahn repurposed as vertical farming space, the areas next to the road could be used to construct housing. With the upcoming German election, there has again been debate about building housing on Berlin’s most popular park, the repurposed airport Tempelhofer Feld, so freeing up land that roads make unusable could be a big plus for the capital city.

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