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Designing the future of farming


Pablo Schaer is a renowned architecture & sustainable design thought leader who has led several groundbreaking environmental construction projects worldwide.


The Argentine architect writes exclusively for Innovators Magazine about one of his latest roles, as Project Design Director on the pioneering ALOHAS ECO-Center development in Hamburg, a position which arose from a game of polo…


Pablo Schaer

Through polo, I developed a strong friendship, which turned into a professional team-up with the world-famous sustainable guru Marc Buckley and got to lead the design of most advanced and sustainable production plant of organic food in Europe.

Marc is a UN SDG Advocate, Social Innovation, Climate Change Agriculture, Food and Beverage Expert Network member of the World Economic Forum.  He is also a recognized TED & Climate Intl. speaker who spoke at the EU Sustainability Summit, at the General assembly at the United Nations and at WEF in Davos earlier this year.

More than just a serial entrepreneur, Marc is a global food reformist ecopreneur and resilient futurist. His aim is to reform the agriculture, food and beverage industry with impactful projects and moonshot companies. He speaks worldwide on climate change and food reform and also teaches entrepreneurs how to build and grow resilient, sustainable, and profitable businesses.

In 2014,  Marc said to me: “I am starting a new disruptive project and need you. You have the necessary international contacts, but those you don’t, you know how to get them.” Seconds later he dropped the powerful words that convinced me.


“We want to turn the entire world’s food and beverage industry on its head and bring it into a new era of renewable and sustainable food production,” Marc said.


I was hooked.

In my role as Project Design Director, I am a team representative, leading the coordination of the architectural and engineering project. My focus is to pull together a global team, and bring on board innovative solutions and unique techniques. It’s a management role that requires the establishment of guidelines for an international team of experts to deliver and design the construction of this fabulous green facility and sustainable urban-vertical farm.

For ALOHAS ECO-Center, which will produce some of the best organic food and drinks for consumption worldwide, I would label the engineering solutions: futuristic.  We are not just focusing on sustainable food and drinks production, which will generate of hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, but are creating interactive education and cultural spaces, green urban expansions and open meeting points for residents and visitors, adding value and a new life experience to its Hamburg location.

The factory is being designed by renowned American Architect William McDonough, the author of the book Cradle To Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things, and designer of NASA’s Sustainability Base. A globally recognized leader in sustainable development, William is the best person to lead this project.

Once it opens in 2019, the 400,000 square meter plant will be able to feed and hydrate 500,000 people comfortably all year long.

What’s in a name?

At the beginning, the name of our project was ANJA GmbH & Co. KG., a Green Production facility. But Marc’s vision always goes further. He is on a mission to empower billions of global citizens to live an adaptive lifestyle of health and sustainability within planetary boundaries. Rapidly upgrading our goal to design a resilient infrastructure we called it the ALOHAS ECO-Center. (ALOHASAdaptive Lifestyle Of Health And Sustainability).

The ECO-center is called a gigafactory due to the amount of energy it will be able to produce: the equivalent of six factories – and because it is gargantuan in size.  The center will produce 80 megawatts per day of renewable energy, mixed between solar, wind and hydrogen power and store 150 megawatts per day in Tesla Powerpacks and Aquion salt water batteries, which then feeds into Schleiswig-Holsteins northern renewable energy network.

ALOHAS ECO-Center (impression).

Only an estimated 15% of the generated electricity will be used by the facility. The rest will return to the local grid.

ALOHAS ECO-Center is independent from fossil fuel energy and allows us to reach a net-zero energy balance. Addressing the water, energy and food nexus with resilient-sustainable technologies, the ECO-Center will serve as a model that can have an impact on a global scale.

An essential part of the ECO-Center, the ANJA Green Production facility, is expected to be the largest fully automated vertical farm in Europe, and the first production food and drinks facility 100% co2 neutral, fully operated via 100% renewable energy – with a combination of solar and wind – and 100% rain water filtered, organic and recycled to produce products locally for an urban population.

I believe the comprehensive design and replicable model will have a global impact and positively affect the lives of billions globally. I would love to see more communities and authorities support these kinds of disruptive projects, as ALOHAS should serve as a role model for the industry and be rolled out in other cities.

By Pablo Schaer


About the author

While teaching at the University of Buenos Aires in the 90s, Pablo brought to South America the most advanced European formwork technology for concrete, changing paradigms in design and construction. And he helped develop a landmark which was for years, the most technically efficient office building in South America. 

In early 2000, he made his name in Asia and then in the US, and was involved in the design of two 50 story towers as associate to Carlos Ott’s Intl. practice.  

Eager to learn from trend technologies, Pablo became further involved in the design & management of sustainable urban projects. But his love of the countryside and equestrian sports, led him to design veterinary eco-facilities for embryo transfer and sustainable centers used for breeding polo horses.


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