Yuichiro Takeuchi says he's created a way to use 3D printing technology to make the world a greener place.
An Associate Researcher at Sony Computer Science Laboratories Inc., Takeuchi hopes to develop his "garden software system" to the point where it might one day transform forgotten urban spaces into ecologically sound acreage within the cramped confines of the world's cities.
Takeuchi uses a 3D printer to form a sort of growing yarn holding plant seeds. His 3D printed garden yarn includes nutrient material printed in the fabric and the result is structures which ultimately bloom into full-sized plants.
A native of Toronto, the Tokyo-based computer scientist says his work explores the intersection of digital technology, architecture and urban design. Calling his vision a "bottom-up style of urbanism," his work has been published in academic journals and presented at conferences. Takeuchi holds a PhD in Informatics from The University of Tokyo and an MDesS from Harvard University.
He says his concept of "Synthetic Space" is a neologism for the architectural space of the future he hopes will one day make transforming our surrounding environments "as easy as changing the wallpaper image on a present-day PC."
According to Takeuchi, while traditional vertical gardens might cost thousands of dollars to install and maintain in dense urban environments, 3D printed plant constructions would be cheaper and more practical for people to grow gardens in smallest city spaces. According to Takeuchi, 3D printing provides flexibility and will ultimately make hydroponic gardening more versatile for city-dwellers.
He presented his concept to an audience at the Sony CSL symposium held the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
While Takeuchi now grows relatively small plants, he believes his method can be used to print structures large enough to one day support trees, fruits and vegetables, and in doing so, revive the ecosystem of cities like Tokyo by removing the excess carbon dioxide in the area around such large metropolitan districts.
Takeuchi also hopes the additional oxygen urban gardening creates could bring back one of his favorite insects.
"Here in Japan we love fireflies – they have a special cultural significance – but as they can only thrive in pristine environments, we don't see them in dense, built-up Tokyo," he told Business Insider. "I'm hoping that by installing a number of printed gardens on rooftops and walls throughout Tokyo, I can someday bring back fireflies to my neighborhood."