urban agriculture; micro-farming; food cycles; food economy; sustainability; food security; urban intensity; public space; multifunctional landscape; architecture and food; community development; urban densification; urban renewal; parametric design; urban ecology; economic development; social equity; ecological footprint; urban design; community supported agriculture
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The Food Urbanism Initiative (FUI) aims to examine the overall impact of food on urban design and to study the potential of new architectural and landscape strategies for the integration of food production, processing, distribution and consumption in the contemporary Swiss city. The study proposes to examine the existing fabric of the city in terms of its potential for incorporating urban agricultural initiatives. It also intends to develop design strategies at multiple scales (building, neighborhood and city) and policies for future urban development that integrate both city life and food production cycles into a more harmonious coexistence that is socially, economically, and environmentally responsible. As the majority of the world’s population moves to the city, much of the prime farmland surrounding the planet’s urban areas is being consumed by low density peri-urban development. At the same time, the need for food to feed the urban population increases. In order to maintain the quality of life in our future cities, secure urban food systems, and protect the broader global environment, the relationship between food and the city must be drastically re-envisioned.Change, however, is not easily mandated. Deeply embedded preconceptions favor urban “landscapes of leisure” over “landscapes of production” and cultural, residential and commercial activities over agricultural activities. Economic feasibility for urban agriculture, perhaps the biggest obstacle, can only be neutralized when a non-quantitative value system is incorporated in the decision making. Furthermore, the lack of obvious fertile terrain limits solutions. Finally, Food Urbanism is a subject that has a wide and disparate target audience which, though harder to reach at first, may in the end may provide the greatest momentum towards implementation.Using a careful analysis of existing urban conditions, agricultural systems, project precedents, public attitudes, and legislative policies, through environmental assessment, advanced data analysis and visualization techniques to spatialize this data, the FUI assesses and factors the benefits, costs, risks and potential returns of each of these initiatives and their implications and opportunities for the larger Swiss food production sector. By focusing on the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and berries and the raising of small animals, all suitable for small plots, the FUI looks to develop urban food production methods that go well beyond traditional allotment gardening thereby increasing agricultural awareness among the urban population, elevating the quality of urban life while at the same time reducing the consumption of the rural territory. This research is conducted by principals involved in the theory and practice of architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture, as well as researchers engaged in the fields of agricultural science and economics. A key product of this collaboration is a Food Urbanism Atlas, an information portal codifying and describing design strategies and urban operations created to promote the Food Urbanism Initiative in addition to an ambitious program of target audience outreach. By engaging these two disparate yet essential fields in constructive dialogue so as to examine the complex relationship between farming and the city the FUI seeks to enrich both while producing new strategies for urban quality.