MLA Thesis Section 2 2017-18

Related Staff : Pryor, Mathew

Students: CHOW Sushakri Patrick; LEE Yuen Ying Crystal; WANG Ting Sarah; ZHANG Wenli Wendy

Course Code: 7299
Course Title: MLA Thesis Section: Productive cities

Cities have traditionally been conceived simply as venues for mass human occupation and activity. Under the umbrella concept of ‘urban agriculture’ they are increasingly being re-thought as sites of production. Remnant farms within Chinese cities, rooftop farms in high rise Hong Kong, edible urban forests in Seattle, Dutch vertical pig farms, commercialized food production from back yards of private homes in Los Angeles, are a few examples of the thousands of small-scale, community-based initiatives to produce food from vacant and under-utilised corners of the city. Urban agriculture is often cited now as a core component of the sustainable or biophilic cities. The suggested benefits of urban agriculture extend well beyond food supply, and include a diverse range of: environmental and climatic (Colding and Barthiel 2013); social and community (Hou, 2017) therapeutic and public health (Webster et al 2015); ecological and biodiversity; urban greenery and rural linkage benefits. Many of these are, in themselves, forms of production, and offer such potential to a sustainable urban future, that food production is becoming something of a secondary consideration. In this thesis stream I would like to explore research questions such as: To what extent are small scale urban agriculture initiatives scalable to the city level (spatially and operationally)? How can we effectively codify, evaluate and represent (graphically or otherwise) the various benefits? What other forms of production might be possible from the physical fabric of the city – e.g. power, water, soil, biota? What is the best role for the landscape architect in urban agriculture, and what research is needed to support that role? and As a consequence of these benefits, could urban agriculture be used as a catalyst for urban change and be used proactively as an urban design tool?