By Beth Carter
Posting in Architecture
An architecture firm in Holland has plans to make eating locally possible in big cities. Is this the future of the urban farm?
When most city-dwellers think of eating locally, they think of heading to a farmers' market, not heading to a farm.
Popular opinion maintains that choosing locally grown produce, butchered meats and other products is the most eco-friendly way to pick your groceries. However, the most densely populated areas are often too far away from farmable land, making eating locally a challenge for huge numbers of people.
Until now, that is. Dutch design firm, van Bergen Kolpa Architecten, has plans to build a 4,000 acre park in the middle of Holland's most populous area, the Randstad, that includes Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
This mega-park will also be a fully functioning farm.
The project, entitled Park Supermarket, aims to make urban food production an attainable reality. The goal, as the title so clearly states, is to be able to provide residents with everything one could find in a grocery store. There is one obvious difference: you'll now be getting it from the source.
Van Bergen Kolpa’s Jago van Bergen told SmartPlanet that his office specializes in architecture and urban planning that offers "sustainable solutions for the cities of today and tomorrow." Or, as he calls it, the “Architecture of Consequence.” The idea that food cultivation should be brought to cities is not new, though in most cases it is largely fantasy. Designs like Park Supermarket offer hope.
The firm plans to control the climate of the park strictly, allowing for what they call “new climate zones” such as moderate, Mediterranean and tropical areas that will produce foods unable to grow in the North Atlantic. According to the project description, they plan to achieve this feat by using “old techniques such as warmth accumulating snake walls and more contemporary solutions as insulating water spray 'roofs' and floor heating on the basis of thermal warmth.”
Currently, according to van Bergen, the firm is working with the Dutch farmers' cooperative Oregional and the governments and residents of Rotterdam and Nijmegen toward the realization of the first phase of Park Supermarket.
The firm is full of food-centered ideas, and a housing project, dubbed CoHousing Hoovliet, follows the same theme. It offers what van Bergen calls “solutions for social cohesion through food production by the local community.” In other words, CoHousing Hoovlier is a housing compound that includes three large community gardens in addition to the private gardens that will accompany each of the 48 residences.
Both projects were shortlisted for the World Architecture Awards coming up this November in Barcelona, and have been exhibited worldwide. This month, Park Supermarket is on display at the Architecture and the City Festival in San Francisco, and the group has organized tours and presentations.
Projects like Park Supermarket, though maybe less attainable here in the US, spark useful discussions about food and the future city, and what good design can do to help.
[Via van Bergen Kolpa Architecten and Fast Company Design]
Photo: van Bergen Kolpa Architecten
Sep 28, 2011
@ dduggerbiocepts: Thank you for your comment. I agree that the sentence in question is confusing, and so is the word sustainable, and I have taken it out of my language in the piece. Thanks again, I appreciate your addition to the topic.
Never expect an architect to do an engineers job - or for that matter apparently not a physicists, or an economists job. "It is clear that choosing locally grown produce, butchered meats and other products is the most sustainable way to pick your groceries." Really? Except in very specific situations that statement isn't generally supported by either physics (mass balance analyzes) or basic economics (production economies of scale). Most such "localized production" efforts only shift the inputs around and if they're smaller in size (they most always are) they are almost always less energy and cost efficient. I've lived in and around "Dutch architecture" in both Holland and in the Dutch Indies (only place in the equatorial tropics with black residential desgins - Dutch architect) and it's some of the most backward and cost-inefficient in the "developed" world. Dutch engineers on the other hand - have a long list of impressive structural accomplishments. I did find one well founded statement in the article - "The idea that food cultivation should be brought to cities is not new, though in most cases it is largely fantasy." - well almost true. In developed countries it's completely a fantasy - both economically and sustainability wise. Few people understand what "sustainability" really means, or know how to accurately access whether something might really be sustainable. If you want fresh vegetables grown around the corner from you - that's all well and good. Claiming that localized production is a sustainable process while periodically popular idea, it isn't either simple or correct - as much experimentation and demonstration over the last 50 years has pointed out. Want to claim something is sustainable - start by showing an audited and complete mass balance analysis (life cycle analysis) - if there is one. If this is ever built, the only people that will benefit from it are the land owners - and the architects.
The one thing I have learned in the past 5 years is when the words GREEN or SUSTAINABLE are involved there is often little or any validation needed for something to be declared fact. If they tell you growing vegitables in the city is sustainable you will buy your $5 neighborhood grown tomato and like the fact it is affordable.