As its population nears one million, Stockholm will soon face a challenge common to rapidly growing urban areas – finding future food production sources to feed an expanding population using limited land and resources.

Belatchew Arkitekter has developed a concept to make Stockholm self-sufficient in its production of a key food group, protein, using under-utilized land in the city: traffic roundabouts. The firm estimates that if Stockholm increased the functionality of these spaces to include food production, the city could produce all the protein its citizens need.

The first step in their vision for the future, however, requires residents to gain an appreciation for the source of that protein: insects.

There are approximately 1,900 edible species of insects, and 2 billion of the world’s population already include insects in their diet. Western consumers have yet to embrace insects as a source of protein, but future preferences may need to change as agricultural land becomes scarce. Insects represent a significantly more efficient form of protein in relation to the land needed for its production. While 10 kg of fodder is needed to produce 1 kg of beef, the same 10 kg of fodder can produce 9 kg of insects.

Belatchew Arkitekter calculates that by repurposing nine specific roundabouts throughout the city into insect farms and insect-based food production complexes known as “Buzzbuildings,” Stockholm could become a pioneer in the global quest for future urban food solutions.

“BuzzBuilding consists of a building that integrates the whole insect production flow, from the egg to the ready-to-eat insect,” the firm explains. “Additionally, BuzzBuilding is a safe haven for endangered wild bees, which, apart from ensuring endangered species of bees’ continued existence, also turns Stockholm into a blooming and fertile city.”

“The main structure is a steel exoskeleton, an outer skeleton, inspired by the structure of insects. On the ground floor there is a restaurant where insects are prepared and sold. The goal is to make the production public; in contrast to hidden meat production, it invites the public to observe and participate, and offers accessible knowledge about where our food comes from.”

As urban assets ranging from airport terminals to highway bridges are being repurposed for future food production, it is good to see traffic roundabouts being considered for innovative new use.

This project and dozens of others are featured in the Reprogramming the City Book!