What Urban Agriculture Means for Urban Design

Charles Waldheim examines the current trend's roots in design and architectural history and how it might alter city form.
November 9, 2010, 1pm PST | Lynn Vande Stouwe
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The idea of bringing food production to cities is not new, Waldheim says. In fact, it's a key element of three unbuilt projects by well-known architects: Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre City, Ludwig Hilberseimer's New Regional Pattern, and Andrew Branzi's Agronica. In each design, agricultural landscapes are integral, organizing components.

These projects remind planners that although current discussions of urban agriculture typically focus on food policy, the movement brings broader implications for the city form, writes Charles Waldheim:

"To date the enthusiasm for slow and local food has been based, on the one hand, on the assumption that abandoned or underused brownfield sites could be remediated for their productive potential; and on the other it has been based on the trend toward conserving greenfield sites on city peripheries - on dedicating valuable ecological zones to food production and to limiting suburban sprawl. But these laudable goals are not much concerned with how urban farming might affect urban form. This suggests that we need to probe further into the possibilities of agricultural urbanism."

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Published on Thursday, November 4, 2010 in Places
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