Thursday, November 29, 2007

Very Urban Agriculture

An interesting story - Going Agro, from BLDGBLOG via Dwell... Overall, it is regarding the meshing of agriculture and building - definitely a blending of landscape and architecture in inventive ways.

(photo from BLDGBLOG - via Knafo Kilmor Architects - see their site for more info)

This concept brings up some interesting future scenarios of the need for multi-functional landscape interventions, which will most likely occupy space on/in buildings, as open space is reduced. While there will always be a need for nature, in the form of terra firma, recent dialogue regarding Peak Oil has offered many compelling arguments related to our need to reform a variety of processes, a significant one being food production.

The City of Portland recently commissioned a report entitled 'Descending the Oil Peak: Navigating the Transition from Oil and Natural Gas' - prepared by the Peak Oil Task Force. While hinting at a possibility of anarchist doom and gloom, it is a relatively straightforward approach to preparing ourselves for the possibility of severe changes in lifestyle due to our current reliance on fossil fuels. The recommendations, which to their credit includes a call to 'Act Big, Act Now', even though estimates range from 10-40 years before impacts will be felt, span Transportation and Land Use, Food and Agriculture, Economic Impacts, and Impacts to Public and Social Services.

There were a couple of interesting points, both in a shift to more local economies and agricultural systems, and the ways in which we develop and inhabit land. As a conceptual strategy to move us towards more thoughtful planning, including more density, better mass transit, public spaces, mixed use centers so people can live near work, and on... pretty much the sustainable urbanist princples in a nutshell. Will Peak Oil cause us to come to our senses?

From an urban agriculture perspective, the interesting aspects include a shift to more old fashioned technologies and the need for a re-education of the masses on ideas such as growing food, canning, preservation. How will these educational strategies shift building, in such a way as the modern and designerly agenda shown above, or more of a return to nature strategy that involves us getting our hands dirty, learning how to grow things, and getting satisfaction out of battling slugs with beer, and picking warm cherry tomatoes from the vine. Hopefully both?

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