A Rooftop Urban Farming Experience (28 May 2023)

On 28 May 2023, wethefarm at Beauty World Centre and The Circle for Human Sustainability hosted 55 Diploma in Architecture students from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) to a rooftop urban farming experience as part of their Circular Design module.

Students were introduced to the idea that architecture needs to include an understanding of biology and ecology, and not just treat the urban environment as abstract manmade structures. This was done through the use of all five senses - sight, touch, hearing, smell & taste - the last two of which are not normally considered as part of architecture.  Students got to taste the electric daisy flower, traditionally used to treat toothaches, which produces a tingling sensation on the lips and tongue.  Students also got to taste different varieties of ginger.

“I learnt that there are so many plants and flowers that can be eaten, and an unused rooftop can be used for a much more meaningful purpose, like a sustainable urban farm.”

Students learnt that composting is a key aspect of sustainable farming as circularity cannot be achieved without involving Nature.  Students were shown hot composting using aerobic decomposition which does not emit smelly gases, and vermicomposting using earthworms, demonstrating how microbiome, earthworms, beetle larvae, etc., help to make compost such that recycled nutrients can be returned to the plants being grown. An added benefit is that it reduces the amount of wet waste sent to landfill which would have caused methane emissions as a result of anaerobic decomposition.

“It amazed me to discover the intricate chain of cycles that exists within nature.”

Students were also shown the experimental pond with fish and water plants used to filter the water, demonstrating that an ecosystem can be established in something no bigger than a bathtub.

After the tour, it was time for some hands-on work, and students helped with transplanting some plants and clearing away butterfly pea vines in preparation for the next round of planting.

“I really enjoyed the trip as we got to learn about the many plants that can grow in Singapore’s climate, and also how they use food waste to create compost for the plants – that shows how plants and food are part of a cycle.”

Special thanks go to Course Manager Michael Tan of NYP for coordinating, and Lecturer Ron Tang and Jashir for managing and organizing the students, and Tan Jing Xiang and Nicholas Chin of wethefarm for imparting their knowledge and insight, and sharing their passion for how we can produce food in an urban environment using methods that are in harmony with Nature.

See photos of the event here.


Written by Ar. Catherine Loke

on behalf of the
Resilience Working Group