Form follows food: an examination of architecture’s role in urban farming

  • YEAR
    Fong, Olivia
    Gjerde, Morten
    2016 Conference Papers
    Architectural Science, Landscape and Urban Design
    Conference Papers


With rising global urban populations, existing food infrastructure systems are rapidly becoming unsustainable. Increasing distances between rural food production and urban residents extends to a conceptual divide and misguided understanding of what activities ought to be classed as ‘rural’ versus ‘urban’. Some of those looking for alternative solutions note food’s potential to act as an organiser of urban systems and catalyst for change. Tapping into this potential, architects and designers have been using urban farming as a vehicle to speculate about “green” futures. However, sustainability is often sidelined in photorealistic renders where designs are ‘decorated’ with organic matter, designs that are unlikely to be viable. The paper critiques current practices in relation to this important social, economic and ecological infrastructure. Historic and contemporary precedents at various stages of the food cycle, from how it is produced to where it is consumed, are introduced. The paper goes on to discuss the potential for urban farming, trading and consumption to contribute to a sense of place through architectural interpretation. While widening the discussions of food and the city, architecture provides the built accommodation for both plants and people, so that the ‘urban future’ can be revaluated.


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