Enriching Food Production with BioCities


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Products of Design hosted to BioCities’ second event in its Transforming Cities Project: Buildings and Agriculture: Soil, Hydroponic or Aeroponic? The standing-room-only crowd listened to experts present and discuss the merits of three different cultivation techniques for growing food in, and on buildings. Guests to the studio were welcomed by Tom Jost, Senior Urban Strategist from Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Department Chair Allan Chochinov. Student Richard Clarkson spoke about the culture of food and agriculture and his explorations into aesthetics, production, consumption and disposal that inspired his final project for Claire Hartten’s Design for Sustainability and Resilience class – a sensuous white food surface entitled Diptable.

Kathleen Bakewell, BioCities’ Executive Director, introduced the evening as an opportunity to examine three forms of building-integrated agriculture and their potential for creating "sitopian" cities. Speakers Marc Oshima (AeroFarms), Laurie Schoeman (Intervention: Green) and Alec Baxt (FarmingUp), debated the three systems of food production, bringing to light several distinctions in growing techniques, economic structures, energy demands, community benefits, and prospects for expansion.

The evening wrapped up with a lively Q&A and warm invitation by faculty member Claire Hartten to engage in a reception centered upon ingredients made from local, seasonal foods. The "ugly vegetables" selection of paradoxically delicious and nutrient-rich snacks was offered on the Diptable. The evening, co-presented with the Green Rabbits, received support from Whole Foods Market, Greenmarkets, Parsons Brinckerhoff and the Urban Green Council. Special thanks to students Gaïa Orain and Zena Pesta for enhancing the reception as an example of social interaction design through their collaborative efforts.

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