Agriculture is perhaps the last thing you’d associate with teeming downtown Tokyo, and it’s probably a good bet that the majority of citizens who pass the run-of-the-mill office high-rise in the course of their daily commute would hardly guess that high-tech urban farming activities are taking place below their feet.
Located in the heart of Tokyo’s Chiyoda district, agriculture and staffing corporation Pasona Group sought the help of Kona Designs to connect their company’s product within the day-to-day happenings of its office. The New York-based architectural firm came up with an idea: What if crops and office employees shared a common work space?
Pasona O2 occupies six separate rooms and around 10,000 square feet of a former bank vault in Tokyo’s business district. The urban farm was created by the Pasona Group to engage job-seekers of all ages in agricultural activities in the hopes of bolstering Japan’s declining agricultural sector. In the absence of natural sunlight or weather conditions, Pasona O2 relies on state-of-the-art technology to maintain optimal growing conditions. A variety of sun lamps provide customized lighting conditions while the air temperature is controlled by computer. In all, Pasona O2 raises around 100 regional crops.
Over 100 varieties of roses decorate the exterior of the building in the springtime, beans grow beneath indoor benches, and a full-fledged rice paddy flourishes in the lobby as seasonal produce is harvested from the roof and balconies. LEDs supplement natural light, allowing edible greens to be grown in offices and conference rooms. The harvest is then collected, prepared, and served to employees in the company cafeteria.
Given its massive energy consumption, the farm is hardly considered sustainable, but then, it was never meant to be. Rather, its purpose is to educate participants on the importance of agriculture and to harness the creativity and drive of a new generation of Japanese farmers. The green space also provides mental sustenance to the office workers lucky enough to work among the crops.
Update December, 2017: Pasona O2 no longer grows plants; instead the top floor is now an animal farm.