Building a Case for Residential Aquaponic Integration: An Environmentally Conscious Interior Design Perspective

Presented by: Christopher Cooper and Haroon Sattar

Aquaponics- a bio-integrated system of food production burgeoning in urban use, aquaponics is an aquaculture/hydroponic hybrid featuring indefinite yields of edible, healthy fish and vegetation. With this system, “nutrient wastes from fish tanks are used to fertilize hydroponic beds via irrigation water. In turn, the hydroponic beds function as a bio-filter so the water can then be recirculated back into the fish tank” (Diver, 2000). This integrated recirculating system is chemical free and water conservative. It also is relatively low-maintenance. Available urban models lack best practice potential due to architectural non-integration. Potential benefits are examined from the perspective of the environmentally conscious interior designer (ECID) since this practitioner is concerned both with the health, safety, and welfare (HSW) of residents and the HSW of the environment.

High-yield grow spaces such as out-of-doors greenhouses consume precious real-estate in areas of dense population and force users to waive shelter for system access, permitting environmental safety hazards and accessibility issues. A possible solution to these barriers to universal appeal is the architectural process of integrated design. With this method, essential system benefits could be preserved without compromising HSW for residents. Therefore, this study serves as an early stage of inquiry, showcasing some of the potential benefits of aquaponic integration in a residential context. 

To build a case for architectural integration of residential aquaponic systems, research of authoritative sources relevant to discovering the direct benefits integrative aquaponics could have on residential experience and environmental impact were examined according to the principles and practices of the ECID. The ECID additionally embraces green design, which focuses on the HSW of people, and sustainable design, which focuses on the HSW of the planet (Jones, 2008). The areas of residentially integrative aquaponic benefits that were examined were qualified on prerequisite terms of greenness and sustainability. These areas are universal appropriateness and accessibility, air quality, water consumption, waste management, and psychological impact, respectively. The five areas of potential benefits that have been examined are:

  • universal appropriateness and accessibility 
  • air quality
  • water consumption
  • waste management 
  • psychological impact

Based on the research presented in this study, the integration of this eco-technology into the kitchen space could meet the qualifications of green building design in a universally appropriate and accessible way while providing residents with an endless supply of healthy food and improved psychological well-being. According to Yudelson, “[a] green building is one that considers then reduces its impact on the environment and human health…uses considerably less energy and water than a conventional building…and generally [has] higher levels of indoor air quality” (Yudelson, 2008). 

Modeled after the biological principle of mutualism, this method engages sequential and collaborative design phases for building systems specialists and relevant authorities to establish synergistic relationships between every building systems component. Consistently achieving best results, it is “the main method used by green builders to design high-performance buildings on conventional budgets” (Yudelson, 2007). In practice, “government officials, urban planners, developers, building owners, architects, engineers, interior designers, construction managers, code officials, contractors, tradespeople, landscape architects, facility managers, and the people who live, work, and play in the buildings [MUST] all be engaged” (Jones, 2008). While this initial stage of inquiry is from the perspective of the ECID, further inquiry by these constituents would be needed to establish additional benefits, challenges, and solutions to residential aquaponic integration.


  • Diver, S. (2000). Aquaponics: Integration of hydroponics with aquaculture. National sustainable agricultural information service. National Center for Appropriate Technology. Retrieved from
  • Yudelson, J. (2007). Green building A to Z: Understanding the language of green building. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publisher
  • Wolverton, B. C. (1989). A study of interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement: An interim report. Stennis Space Center, MS: NASA.
  • Ulrich, R. (1991). Effects of interior design on wellness: Theory and recent scientific research. Annual National Symposium on Health Care Interior Design: Journal of Healthcare Interior Design.
  • McDonough & Braungart, (2002). Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things. New York: North Point Press
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