2013-08-23

Co.Exist

These Office Workers Can Tend Crops While They're In Boring Meetings

A building in Tokyo that has 200 species of rice, fruits, and veggies may have reached new levels in the craze to "green" the office.

In the arms race among companies to outfit offices with as many green signifiers as possible—rooftop beehives, local food cafeterias, electric vehicle charging stations—an office building in Tokyo may have reached new heights. Workers at the headquarters of staffing agency Pasona Group don't just tend vegetables on their company's rooftops—they invite the greenery right into their work space.

Kono Designs renovated a nine-story, 215,000-square-foot office building to include 43,000 square feet of urban green space and 200 species of rice, fruit, and vegetables that are plucked from the vine and turned into meals at the company's cafes. Some veggies are grown on the rooftop, but there's also farming right inside. "It is the largest and most direct farm-to-table of its kind ever realized inside an office building in Japan," claims Kono's website, adding:

Tomato vines are suspended above conference tables, lemon and passion fruit trees are used as partitions for meeting spaces, salad leaves are grown inside seminar rooms and bean sprouts are grown under benches. The main lobby also features a rice paddy and a broccoli field.

Crops are grown using hydroponic methods as well as in traditional soil. Natural sunlight is augmented by artificial grow-lights, while automatic irrigation and a climate control system minimizes the amount of human labor needed.

"It creates a unique workplace environment that promotes workers' productivity, mental health, and social interaction and engages the wider community of Tokyo by showcasing the benefits and technology of urban agriculture," writes Kono. Indeed, any pedestrian passing could tell that this building is not your average office: A living, green facade serves as an advertisement for the thriving farm within.

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