Back in October 2016, The Growroom was launched by Swedish architects Mads-Ulrik Husum and Sine Lindholm. This was done in collaboration with Space10, IKEA’s Copenhagen-based innovation lab (a community united by the joint purpose of designing an eco-friendly way of living). The structure was later exhibited at the Chart Art Fair in Copenhagen. Since then designers have updated it, with a new version produced without any metal fragments.

The Growroom does what it says on the tin; a spherical assembly, it allows people to grow anything and everything (including their own food, from herbs to fruit and vegetables!). More specifically, The Growroom is a DIY flat-pack indoor garden, giving anyone the chance to have a local, sustainable farm of their own. Lindholm previously confessed the origin of their inspiration – The Growroom was designed “on the basis of spatial experimentation with the urban farming concept, we strive towards creating architecture where atmosphere… acts as the primary design factor, to generate poetic spaces with a sense of tranquility…”.

As soon as the idea was conceived, the company received numerous, global requests. From San Francisco to Helsinki, people’s desire to have their own indoor-greenhouse was rocketing. Surprisingly, and to great disappointment, shipping for the living furniture is unavailable. This is because the inventors refuse to lose sight of their end goal of increasing sustainability (a goal made redundant if the structure needs to be transported across oceans). However, this begs the question – how can their message of sustainability be spread? Designers at Space10 recently made building instructions accessible to anyone online. Furthermore, as with most IKEA furniture, the pieces fix together (relatively..?) simply. Using a grinding machine, a hammer, several steel nails and 17 plywood sheets, the structure can be assembled in just 17 easy steps.

“…on the basis of spatial experimentation with the urban farming concept, we strive towards creating architecture where atmosphere… acts as the primary design factor, to generate poetic spaces with a sense of tranquility…”

Space10 points out that due to the recent development of digital fabrication, tools such as laser cutting (previously of limited accessibility) are now readily available in hacker spaces and fab-laboratories. Thus, people can hypothetically manufacture almost anything in these public workshops. Drawing on this, Space10 designers are trying to spread the idea of ‘customised production’ in the hopes that this will become common practice in the future. This idea explains why The Growroom, produced using just one material, is thought to be accessible to anyone; the instructions are easy to follow, and the assembly process is instinctive. Moreover, due to its Creative Commons license, the structure can be customised and new features added if desired. The only requirements are that the original version is credited to Husum, Lindholm and Space10, and that the personalised end product is shared with them.

The Growroom is almost three metres, in both height and width. Whilst the size might discourage some from buying it for their homes, there are plenty of other contexts in which the structure can work. For example, The Growroom is perfect for public spaces such as museums and shopping centres, to be used as a common area for visitors who want to escape the polluted city air. This is exactly the intention of the product, being “…designed to support our everyday sense of well-being in cities by creating a small oasis or ‘pause’-architecture in our high paced societal scenery”. The pavilion shape provides freedom in the spatial context of the structure, expanding equally in every direction.

The living assembly is composed of overlying layers, enabling each level of vegetation to be touched by the sun and to receive water easily. However, the clever structure also casts shadows on visitors sitting on the shelters inside the sphere. Nowadays, with space vastly lacking in urban settings, The Growroom is a perfect alternative. A vertical-growing farm, it takes up significantly less space than traditional agricultural structures. The outcome? The public is able to eat local, high quality, fresh, organic food at the dining table, without the crazy price tag.

The Growroom architects aim to connect people with their food and, hence, with nature. They believe that a stronger connection with nature will make people more sensitive towards current environmental issues. Moreover, Space10 affirms that “local food represents a serious alternative to the global food model”, and that The Growroom “reduces food miles, our pressure on the environment, and educates our children of where food actually comes from”. Each Growroom is organised so as to be able to grow enough food for one neighbourhood, and seems to be a more feasible option than shopping from farm to table. So, what next? Simple – search for your closest makerspace online, roll up your sleeves and get cracking!

Caterina is a second year Journalism and Communications student at Cardiff University. In order to pursue her passion for writing, she left Italy and moved to Wales. Her interests and hobbies consist of writing, reading, cooking and boxing. Her favourite journalist is Beppe Severgnini. Caterina has a keen curiosity for science and everything linked to the environment, France, and food; she is always searching for new recipes or ingredients to try. She hopes to pursue a career in environmental journalism.

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