In response to the protracted and ineffective international action on the climate change crisis, this study critically considers the potential of building-integrated agriculture (BIA) as retrofitting strategy to improve the climate change adaptation (CCA) capacity of buildings in South African inland cities. Based on a pragmatism paradigm, the study uses a mixed method research design, to evaluate current BIA farms and their efficacy as CCA retrofitting strategies to improve the thermal performance of the local built environment.
The exploratory research is structured in three phases. During the first phase the unused and underutilised spaces of Hatfield, a rapidly changing neighbourhood in Tshwane, South Africa, are mapped and defined in terms of their latent climate change adaptation capability. Secondly, the spatial and technological characteristics of the current BIA industry is surveyed through a series of interviews and observational studies. As the final research phase, a specific BIA farm type, passively controlled non-integrated rooftop greenhouses, is assessed in terms of its reciprocal thermal impact on the built environment.
As outcome, the research findings reveal a land-use form that can contribute to the climate change adaptation response strategies of South African cities on a spatial level. Unfortunately, the design resolution and technological realisation, specifically the prevalent form currently implemented in Johannesburg and Tshwane, adversely affect both farmers and building occupants during overheated periods. As a result, the study advocates developing and testing contextually appropriate technological solutions in the BIA industry.
The study advances the climate change discourse by assessing the performance of BIA farms as constituent entities in networks of small-scaled climate change adaptation projects in resource constrained urban environments.