As grim as it may sound, there’s a pretty good chance that in about 40 years from now we’ll be taking orders from omnipresent matryoshka dolls, building homes out of Restoration Hardware catalogs, and eating bugs for dinner because there’s simply not enough meat to go around.
To address that last, and rather serious point, Belatchew Labs, an offshoot of Stockholm-based architecture firm Belatchew Arkitekter, has dreamt up a glowing, donut-shaped edifice that serves as a veritable insect farm, cultivating enough critters — crickets, specifically — to render the Swedish capital self-sufficient on the protein front. Essentially, the project, dubbed BuzzBuilding, is a big ol’ insect factory.
Part of Belatchew Labs’ InsectCity project, the driving factor behind BuzzBuilding is rather straightforward: by the year 2050, Earth will be home to 9 billion hungry inhabitants, putting a serious strain on both food supplies and the environment. Simply put, there won’t be enough beef — or chicken or pork or what have you — to adequately feed the global population. As explained by the United Nations, embracing entomophagy — that is, the human consumption of insects and arachnids — may be the only way to keep us both properly satiated and from completely destroying the planet’s resources once and for all.
Explains Belatchew Labs:
A solution is to find an alternative to meat production, and one such protein source is insects. There are approximately 1900 edible species of insects, and 2 billion of the world’s population already eat insects today. Protein production from insects is much more efficient than meat production, for example, 10 kg [22 lbs] fodder is needed to produce 1 kg [2.2 lbs] of beef, but the same amount of fodder can produce 9 kg [19.8 lbs] of insects.
BuzzBuilding, which gets its name not because of the whole urban cricket farm thing but because it also serves as “a safe haven for endangered wild bees, which, apart from ensuring endangered species of bees’ continued existence, also turns Stockholm into a blooming and fertile city,” would offer up 10,350 square meters of space dedicated to cricket cultivation, integrating “the whole insect production flow, from the egg to the ready-to-eat insect.” Ultimately, Beltachew Labs envisions multiple BuzzBuildings spread across Stockholm. Nine of these curious-looking structures would be erected atop city traffic circles in an effort to properly feed Stockholm residents. (In terms of raw space needed for production, Beltachew Labs is going by 2018 population estimates for the city).
Supported by “steel exoskeletons,” the buildings themselves are a work of arthropod-inspired architecture and will house two distinct areas: a production floor dedicated to the five-step cricket cultivation process — hatching, maturing, harvesting, and mating — and a ground floor with public areas and cricket commissary: “The goal is to make the production public; in contrast to the hidden meat production it invites the public to observe and participate, and offers accessible knowledge about where our food comes from.” In addition to noshing on cricket treats, visitors will also be able to view a lush, bee-attracting garden located within the structure's "hole" from the ground level.
Click here to view an infographic further detailing Belatchew Lab's vision.
All and all, this is intriguing stuff that may seem outlandish but is very much rooted in the reality of our not-so-distant future when we'll be forced to shelf our repulsion and dig on in. And if Belatchew Arkitekter rings a bell, it’s because this is the same firm that proposed transforming an existing residential tower in Stockholm into an urban wind farm by covering it in thousands of tiny, electricity-producing plastic straws.
Related on MNN:
- Insects: The new protein source?
- Meet the entrepreneur who's betting you'll eat bugs
- Why insects should be a part of your next Thanksgiving feast