Judges go nuts for Jacob’s urban idea

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THERE are legions of people producing food in Sheffield – but how many have thought of growing coconuts in the city centre?

Well, at least one has.

Sheffield Hallam University graduate Jacob Szikora even drew up ambitious plans for growing the foodstuff on London Road away from its natural environment.

But he is the first to admit it may never come to fruition – despite winning a European prize in Rome for the concept.

The 20-year-old said: “You might think it unusual to have coconuts growing in Sheffield, but there are some in the Winter Garden and I think the Botanical Gardens, so it’s been done before.

“I don’t know if it will happen, but I was asking the question of should we be growing more food in urban areas?”

Jacob’s plans for a facility which produces, processes, packages and sells coconuts show them flourishing in a modern building. They were created as part of Jacob’s final portfolio, The Concrete Orchard, for an architecture and environmental design degree.

A trigger for the idea, which used coconuts as an ‘extreme’, was the cost and impact of taking food all over the world.

Jacob, who lived on Ecclesall Road while in Sheffield, but is working in London on a gap year, said: “I spoke to Heeley City Farm and was told they use an imported coconut by-product in their compost, so I was trying to get to the root of the problem.”

The idea earned Jacob joint first in the international EDUCATE prize, topping hundreds of applications from architecture schools across Europe.

It encourages environmentally-friendly ideas in architecture and urban design.

Jacob said: “It was a great experience. People could be encouraged to grow more food in areas. There are a lot of allotments in Sheffield with a waiting list, so why not?”

The plans are on show in the university’s Adsetts Learning Centre and are to travel the city in an exhibition.

Architecture lecturer Gabriel Tang, who nominated Jacob, said: “We are proud of Jacob’s achievement. His win is inspirational for us.”