Growing in Ghosts: A Methodology To Retrofit North American Abandoned Big Box Stores Into Successful Suburban Farms
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Vertical farming uses controlled environments to maximize growth of edible plants with minimal water and pesticides. Simultaneously, consumers are transitioning to digital platforms, resulting in decreased utility of big-box stores. These structures make excellent candidates for warehouse vertical farm (WVF) retrofits due to (1) their proximity to suburban communities and (2) their homogeneous form and assembly. This thesis answers the question: How can the retrofit of big box stores into vertical farms use food to enhance social and environmental conditions for peri-urban immigrant populations? This thesis revealed how systems thinking may offer determine repeatable—yet site specific guidelines for architecture to mitigate social shortfalls and the ecological overshoots of peri-urban North America. Ecological overshoots are diminished through the reintroduction of ecosystem services into building systems. Social shortfalls are minimized by integrating cross-cultural suburban populations in agricultural activities. The resulting framework blends nature, culture, and engineering through modular and flexible architecture.