Establishment of Urban Bio Spaces

Based on the food4future extreme scenarios, in which  a sufficient food supply cannot be guaranteed in the future either through global trade ("No Trade") or through sufficient arable and grazing land for the conventional cultivation of plants and breeding of animals ("No Land"), alternatives must be created that allow food to be produced in sufficient quantity and quality independently these factors. One possibility here is the development of so-called “Urban Bio Spaces”, which offer various organisms optimal conditions for growth while enabling high productivity in a small area. These spaces can be a combination of a large number of different self-contained individual cells (so-called compartments), which gives them the ability to adapt to changing basic conditions such as available space, food demand or type of organism. Due to this modular construction, the integration of the bio spaces into an urban environment is viable. Thereby, previously unused space in public domains or on top of roofs can be effectively used for food production.

Urban Bio Spaces for food production in an underground station. (Illustration: headland for food4future)

Very high demands are made on the chemical and physical properties of the compartments. On the one hand, they must have sufficient mechanical strength (e.g. to enable machine harvesting) and on the other hand, their weight should be as low as possible to simplify handling and not affect the static strength of buildings. Other important properties of the construction materials can be UV stability or transparency, so that sunlight can penetrate into the interior. For this purpose, suitable fiber-reinforced materials that offer the potential to combine the required properties are developed. They consist of fibrous materials (such as glass fibers), which ensure high mechanical strength, and plastics (reactive resins), which shape the composites and make them highly resistant to environmental influences. The chemical and physical properties of the reactive resins can be adjusted according to the specific requirements.

In order to create ideal growing conditions for the various organisms, it is also necessary to integrate suitable heat and light sources. The optimal conditions are determined by the project partners within the research field Organisms. Appropriate technical devices, such as LED modules or heating elements, will be integrated into the fiber-reinforced plastics.

During the course of project, the developed materials and methods will be used to create several of these compartments as prototypes to investigate the possibilities of cultivating food-producing organisms in urban environments.

Text: J. Sabban, O. Kahle, PYCO

Fraunhofer IAP, research area Polymer materials and composites PYCO
Schmiedestr. 5
15745 Wildau 

pmp Projekt Gesellschaft für Projektentwicklung und Generalplanung mbH
Max-Brauer-Allee 79
22765 Hamburg

Websites, research division PYCO

Project duration
March 2019 - February 2024

Interaction with f4f and associated partners
InnoMat GmbH

Portrait of Prof. Dr. Christian Dreyer

Prof. Dr. Christian Dreyer

PI | Leader Research Field II
T +49(0) 3328 330-280

Prof. Dr. Christian Dreyer is vice head of the research division Polymeric Materials and Composites PYCO at Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP and professor for Fiber Composite Material Technologies at Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau. In addition to the development of new fiber-reinforced lightweight construction materials, his work focuses on the research of alternative curing methods for reactive resins using UV radiation and microwaves. In food4future, he is principal investigator of the project "Establishment of Urban Bio Spaces" for the research division PYCO as well as leader of the research field II.

Portraitfoto Jürgen Padberg

Jürgen Padberg


Jürgen Padberg, Dipl.-Ing., architect, Dombaumeister. Managing partner at pmp Projekt GmbH.

Portrait of Dr Theresa Förster

Dr Theresa Förster


Dr. Theresa Förster is a materials scientist and research associate in the Polymer Materials and Composites Research Unit at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP. In food4future she supports the development of sustainable fiber composite materials for the urban indoor production compartments.

Portrait of Jens Möhlenkamp

Jens Möhlenkamp

Architect at pmp Projekt GmbH
Portrait of Jakob Sabban

Jakob Sabban

Former Staff Member

Jakob Sabban, M. Sc., is a scientist at the research division Polymer Materials and Composites PYCO of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP. His activities include the design and construction of lightweight composite components and the development of suitable manufacturing methods. In food4future he is responsible for various material tests and the planning and production of the organism compartments.


Fricke A., Psarianos M., Sabban J., Fitzner M., Reipsch R., Schlüter O.K.Dreyer C., Vogt J.H-M., Schreiner M. and Baldermann S. (2022) "Composite materials for innovative urban farming of alternative food sources (macroalgae and crickets). (Front. Sustain. Food Syst.)