On the 19 and 20 May the Architecture Centre took the City Ideas Studio food theme on tour - taking part in the Your Green Future 2015 event held at the University of the West of England. Over 300 secondary school students signed up to work alongside over 40 businesses in a range of interactive workshops. Your Green Future recognises that a low carbon economy and new environmental technologies are key growth sectors for the region. The event aimed to actively engage young people in thinking about an environmentally friendly and sustainable future city.
The Architecture Centre’s workshop Your Green City focused on the theme of food, asking the big question ‘How will cities feed themselves in the future?’ We asked the students to think about how our cities will need to be designed differently as the population of the world increases and most people will be living in cities (many in Megacities of 10 million+ people). Space and land will be limited and expensive, costs of transporting food will increase, it is time to think about how we can utilise any space we can find to grow our food more locally, helping to meet the predicted 70% increase in global food production in a sustainable and creative way.
Groups of 35-40 students were split into teams of 6/7. Architects from White Design, Noma Architects, Buro Happold, Askew Architects and Skanska as well as two current UWE Architecture and Planning students worked with the student teams as mentors. The groups were asked to take on the role of architect, landscape architect or master planner and develop 2D and 3D design ideas for a future city, thinking about how public spaces could be used to grow food, (eg. roundabouts, graveyards, roadside verges). Students could also think about designing vertical farms, indoor growing spaces on a domestic and industrial scale and altering buildings so they can grow as much food as possible (using wall and roof spaces).
After a kickstarter presentation the students had to develop their own designs, first drawing 2D plans and then constructing 3D models. At the end of each workshop students shared their ideas with the rest of the group, highlighting the key design solutions to the challenge ‘how will cities feed themselves in the future’. With the support of their professional mentors, the students came up with some innovative ideas, including:
- A tiered cake-stand inspired tall building for growing vegetables (with light loving plants such tomatoes/strawberries grown nearest the top)
- Turning disused mines into underground mushroom farms
- Boat farms to utilise space on water which could also transport food to where it was needed whilst growing it
- Using wind turbines to create energy to pump rainwater around buildings to water food crops growing on walls and roofs
Students and teachers who were inspired by the workshop were encouraged to:
- enter the Architecture Centre’s My Green City Design Challenge for Schools
- attend the Architecture Centre’s free Feeding the Future City Family event