Cultivating carparks

Imagine driving in to work to find your usual carpark has morphed into an urban farm? It might not be that crazy an idea as cities respond to changing technology and social preferences.

“If you imagine a world ten years hence where we don't need cars and carparks, because we're taking autonomous vehicles where we go. Then it begins to get us thinking about how we might repurpose those spaces,” says Kate Cooper, Westpac’s head of innovation. 

For many cities, how to respond to population growth and sustainability concerns is getting increasing attention after the world’s urban population in 2008 surpassed the population in rural areas for the first time in what The World Bank dubbed a “critical event” in history. 

More than a decade on, as experts forecast the world’s total population to rise from around 7.2 billion to almost nine billion by 2030, the growth in cities is showing little sign of slowing down. The flow-on challenges are many and often worse in developing nations: infrastructure, housing, and social and health issues, to name a few.  Another is food supply.

"As the world continues to grow and the population edges past nine billion, food will become a burning platform,” Westpac’s national manager of agribusiness Steve Hannan said ahead of this week’s launch of a new Cultivate space, a pop-up urban farming experience.

Developed by property giant Mirvac and start-up Farmwall to educate innovative ways for growing food in urban settings, Cultivate’s second space on the ground floor of Westpac’s Sydney headquarters at 275 Kent Street (next to Sussex Lane) will run from March to May and is open to the public every day except Wednesday to purchase fresh produce and take part in various offerings. 


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