Zero-acreage farming driving sustainable urban development: A spatial and technological comparison of urban agriculture farms

Jan Hugo*, Chrisna du Plessis, Andy van den Dobbelsteen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Zero-Acreage Farming (ZAF) recently developed as a novel land-use form and is aimed at addressing food security and sustainable urban development. While it is often lauded as a sustainable land-use form with potential to improve resource consumption and urban sustainability, little research into the spatial and technological requirements of this land-use form is available. This study undertakes a comparative analysis of ZAF and ground-based urban agriculture (UA) farms in diverse countries to differentiate their technical and spatial implementation parameters and uncover ZAF-specific characteristics and their implementation feasibility in rapidly developing cities. This qualitative study uses semi-structured interviews, triangulated with observational studies, to document ZAF and UA farms in South Africa, Belgium, the Netherlands and Singapore. The findings reveal UA as highly flexible, modular land-use forms while, contrastingly, the technological focus of ZAF farms often results in monofunctional and inflexible once implemented, isolated, and non-contextual solutions. While ZAF farms are appropriate to improve livelihoods and food security in dense urban contexts, the study highlights trends that must be addressed to promote the implementation of ZAF in poorer rapidly developing cities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-186
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Green Building
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • building-integrated agriculture
  • urban agriculture
  • urban agriculture technologies
  • urban retrofitting
  • zero-acreage farming


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