the modular greenhouse to grow fruit and vegetables using an innovative method

a project by Stefano Chiocchini architect & designer

Preserve and treat food as you would your body, remembering that in time food will be your body.BW Richardson

The idea of a greener lifestyle is increasingly popular with Italian consumers, most of whom are prepared to spend extra for environmentally sustainable products and services.

Fruit and vegetables are very healthy foods, but pesticides and chemical fertilisers, which are used on them, are very harmful to human health.

The use of natural cultivation methods is the fundamental factor that will increasingly push consumers to use organic produce.

Organic fresh fruit and raw vegetables are products have nutritional and environmental advantages.

Additionally, organic fruit can be eaten in its entirety, without having to remove the skin, which is rich in important nutrients.

...what is the SERRANOVA project?


The project involves the creation of a modular greenhouse which allows an innovative method to be used to grow fruit and vegetables, by exploiting a natural stimulation method using photo-luminescence (created by natural light + fluorescent light) improving response time and ensuring excellent results: an increase in plant size by up to 3 or 4 times.


Inside the greenhouse the risk of plants being attacked by parasites and disease is reduced without using pesticides and avoiding the use of chemical defences. This is achieved using an innovative system, activating a fungus/micro-organism which is located in the flower container and exponentially reduces the danger of the plant being attacked by bacteria, and an air cleaning + purification method which ensures that the greenhouse is healthy and free of pollen and air-borne particles.

This is an environmentally sustainable and perfectly green project that positions the Italian companies that make the innovative container/warehouse at the cutting-edge of research and experimentation.

  • as a source of local products

    for sale or consumption for venues offering farm holidays, for residential areas providing fresh fruits and vegetables for the residents

  • as a system

    which municipal authorities can offer in urban and neighbourhood parks, serving local people and school canteens

  • for private individuals

    who have a small area set aside for a garden where they can grow vegetables efficiently without the need for larger areas and with guaranteed results.

The greenhouse is a closed-circuit system, which produces the energy it uses, so is 100% green

  • 1 Standard container sizes (pre-assembly and transport)

  • 2 Self-sufficient in terms of energy and water

  • 3 Drastic reduction in the amount of parasite attacks by using a soilless cultivation system and mycorrhizal fungi

  • 4 Access controlled with electronic circuit systems

  • Organic crops

  • Local and remote automatic control

  • Increase in the growth potential (3x) and speed of growth of potted plants (2x) using photo-luminescent systems, which patents have been applied for

  • Purification and control of interior air






The heart of the greenhouse is the innovative, experimental system to grow plants.
The blinds that are positioned in front of the shelves holding the growing plants are made from sheets of non-woven fabric which contain photo-luminescent pigments.
Photoluminescence is the distinctive physical property of rare, inorganic aluminates which occur naturally, and which are able to “capture” and store solar or artificial light and then return it in the dark for a maximum of eight to ten hours (at an appreciable level) with declining intensity; this intensity can be kept to its maximum level using natural or artificial sources with a fluorescent lamp.

By using sheets of non-woven photo-sensitive fabric, production levels are increased (reduction of time for the fruit and vegetables to ripen) with above average growth in standard conditions.
This is a project called “Light Conversion for Growing Plants”.
This innovation is based on the following principle: there are some naturally occurring “photo-converter” pigments which can convert some sunlight frequencies or those from a special artificial light into other kinds of frequencies in the visible spectrum between 400 and 700 nm.

A study carried out by the Lucedentro firm with one of the main Italian university agricultural departments, the faculty in Modena-Reggio Emilia, which was commissioned to carry out extensive research, has shown that a particular mix of these photo-converter pigments, in specific percentages, encased in supports like silicone or other less expensive ones like non-woven fabric which is widely used in agriculture, turns sunlight into light frequencies which are very close to peaks in chloroform photosynthesis, significantly stimulating plant growth.

The picture shows two basil plants which were grown in 20 days inside two different incubators, with similar light conditions, soil and humidity: the plant on the left is irradiated in the direct and traditional way, whereas the second is irradiated by overlaying a support which contains the pigments

Biological / Bio-Dynamic System

All these plants are grown in a container inside the greenhouse that contains a biological/biodynamic system with a mixture of peat and coconut fibres, together with organic fertilisers which are biologically created, with the use of mycorrhizal fungi and trichoderm (from certified organic provenance).

The mycorrhizal fungi encourage a dramatic growth in the root system, while trichoderm is a fungus which works symbiotically with plants and which triggers antagonistic action through the root system against diseases with a fungal origin (e.g.: against mildew or fusarium).

This method leads to an increase of around 20-25% expressed in brix referring to the sugars in a tomato, or an increase in the content of essential oils in aromatics (basil, mint) of around 20%.

The scent of the plants increases exponentially and they strengthen, ensuring that they live and can be kept for longer.

Using containers to grow plants is also environmentally friendly: the materials used in cultivation have natural, organic and environmentally sustainable origins (e.g.: coconut fibre).

The fertilisers used to nourish the plants are animal-origin and varieties are selected using specific agronomic techniques which mean that a product can be obtained with organoleptic characteristics which are superior to standard ones.

All the growth substrate from previous crops is reused for other kinds of cultivation with great reductions in raw material costs. Suitably mixed waste products from food processing can also be used as growth media (residue from processing olives, chaff, husks...).

Amy 53

Amy53, an innovative air purification system, is essential for the greenhouse as it ensures protection from the most common attacks of parasites and diseases, following the principles based on natural air cleaning though the effect of rain during a storm.

Water passing through the air brings to ground all the particles which are suspended in the air, including both pollen and bacteria. It is a natural purification process without the artificial addition of chemical materials or substances.


Watering System

The greenhouse is equipped with a water usage optimisation system.
Two collection tank-walls on the opposing closed sides are used to collect rain water.
The compartments located within the wall mean that the use of the water supply needed to top up the system can be optimised; this is generally only used in the warmer months because of dry periods and to compensate for evaporation.

The water used for drip irrigation is gathered underneath the octant flooring, where a collection tank is located from which it is drawn by a pump and reused, after being filtered and, if necessary, purified using a reverse osmosis system.
When water has been exhausted after several uses, it is sent off to two external tanks, where “Red Robin” Photinia x Fraseri, which are bio-digestive bushes, should be planted. The water used in the air treatment machine is also re-used in the same way, avoiding waste and environmental impact.
The natural, organic fertiliser is not allowed to filter down to the groundwater; it is administered in small doses and does not cause ground pollution.
(Closed-circuit system).

Photo-Voltaic Installation

The greenhouse has a photo-voltaic system to produce energy to make it self-sufficient.
The photo-voltaic modules located on top of the two short, higher sides produce around 1.3 kilowatts and keep the internal illumination and the fluorescent LEDs working, as well as the air treatment machine and the watering and water recycling pump.

Electrical System

The automation system is powered by the photo-voltaic installation, the air treatment machine, the watering system and the lighting system which features white light LED strips and LED wood strips which stimulate photo-luminescence.

The system is equipped with an energy accumulator to be used at night: the amount of energy produced will be greater than the functional requirements of the whole system.

Automation System

The automation serving “Serranova” created using the Konnex protocol can manage the following functions:

1) chronology of all the accesses which have been carried out; control of access/opening of the electric closing system at the entrance of the greenhouse through a badge reader and check;

2) lighting and turning off time-controlled courtesy lights and setting up of the sockets at every access to the greenhouse, by inserting the badge in the “pocket” located inside the structure itself;

3) lighting and turning off LEDs of wood and strip LEDs by a dusk sensor;

4) management of the AMY air treatment machine so as to ensure continuity of service, even when the sockets are deactivated;

5) management of the watering device through humidity sensors and timers, to check the timing, need and length of the watering in various different areas;

6) opening and closure of the skylight, through the rain sensor – which has priority – and then the thermostat present within the greenhouse;

7) management of the water discharge valve using a level detector;

8) the location within the greenhouse of a device to call for help;

9) monitoring of the time users spend inside the greenhouse using an alarm which is activated after a pre-established time after the access to the greenhouse.

This alarm can be deactivated manually;

10) the option to remotely control the functions and the parameters of the electricity system using supervision software.

The plants supplied for growing could be as follows:

  • tomatoes (11 varieties)

  • aubergines

  • peppers

  • green beans

  • strawberries

  • lettuce (20 varieties)

  • chicory

  • cabbage

  • melon

  • saffron

  • cucumbers

  • celery

  • aromatic plants

  • medicinal plants

  • blueberries

  • raspberries

  • blackberries

  • grapes

After Sales Service

- transport and assembly on predetermined site

- remote assistance for the automation, electric, electronic, water and air treatment systems

- periodic checks and water of the crops as they grow



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