Sunday, January 17, 2010

From Mowing to Growing

Via BLDGBLOG, a competition announcement about one of the most intriguing competitions recently. This one investigates the ideas related to food and urban agriculture, the hot topic of the last year. One Prize is Organized by Terreform 1 with a subtheme: "From Mowing to Growing is not meant to transform each lawn into a garden, but to open us up to the possibilities of self-sustenance, organic growth, and perpetual change. In particular, we seek specific technical, urbanistic, and architectural strategies not simply for the food production required to feed the cities and suburbs, but the possibilities of diet, agriculture, and retrofitted facilities that could achieve that level within the constraints of the local climate."

:: image via BLDGBLOG

Perusing the One Prize website, it looks like another open-form (i.e. siteless) competition, which seems all the rage nowadays - allowing folks to envision a range of ideas around many themes... some listed in question format on the site include:

  • How can we break the American love affair with the suburban lawn?
  • Can green houses be incorporated in skyscrapers?
  • What are the urban design strategies for food production in cities?
  • Can food grow on rooftops, parking lots, building facades?
  • What is required to remove foreclosure signs on lawns and convert them to gardens?
The jury is quite a collection, and should yield some interesting visions of answers for these questions. The real wonder for me is what the relevance of these visions will be in exploring new ways of thinking about food, agriculture, lawns, urban patterns, and economics in today's society. Many of these ideas have been tossed out in the past 12-18 months - so none of these are earth-shattering questions, and most (edible estates, vertical farming, urban agriculture, building-integrated agriculture, and vacant/ephemeral gardens) are based on older or simple ideas which have emerged and re-emerged and have become part of the overall dialogue.

I hope the competition entries will look beyond what we're already talking about in recent references and think, explore, expand, with the innate lack of competitional constraints, on the true nature and essence of these questions - not just with eye-popping visuals or new terms applied to the old... should be fun.

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