The city’s food production on track

While studying London’s many material and immaterial flows, Adrianna realized the extent to which the production, processing and consumption of food is at the heart of life in the city. “Food not only determines your daily rhythm, it connects the metabolism of the body, the city, the country and even the world.” Zooming in on the city, she saw that there are many plots of land of all shapes and sizes that are not being fully utilized due to their inappropriate location next to or surrounded by rail infrastructure. “A combination of commercial vertical farming concepts with more community-focused urban agriculture can transform these vacant lots into parts of an urban food network. In such a network, local production and consumption go hand in hand with the opportunity to make residents more aware of food production.”

Local needs

Adrianna envisions several food hubs scattered around London, growing different products that can be shared across the city. In fact, an efficient transport system is already in place, she says. “The track can be used at night, when there is little train traffic, to transport goods from one hub to another.” A food hub can be integrated into or linked to local facilities, such as a university complex in need of hospitality facilities and food research laboratories or supermarkets wanting to sell fresh, local produce. But even a water treatment plant or a textile factory could fit in here.” Each node must also have a distinct social function depending on the characteristics and needs of a neighborhood. “In neighborhoods with high unemployment, for example, residents can work as urban farmers.”

The name she designed is aimed at better education. “Obesity and malnutrition are a major problem among children in socially disadvantaged areas. In this hub, children see how all kinds of food are grown as part of their education program. They can grow and harvest their own fruits, vegetables and herbs and learn to appreciate them as a source of good food. I believe that you can really make a difference by making children aware of this from an early age and teaching them good habits.”

Food waste

One of the critical issues in the urban food chain that Adrianna addresses in her Master’s thesis and trial design for a food center is extreme food waste. “Around a third of all food produced globally is wasted, leading to unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and wasted resources such as water, energy, land and labour.” Lack of awareness is part of the reason. “Most people living in cities have no idea where their food comes from or how industry determines its form, taste and nutritional value. I firmly believe that when you bring the food production facilities to the city – close to the shops, restaurants and communities that use, sell, consume or even help grow the produce – you break down preconceptions about what good food should look like. This will make it clearer to people that it really is a mistake to throw away food that does not look perfect and that there is no need to bring food here from all over the world.”

Vertical farming as envisioned by Adrianna has the advantage of producing almost no waste. The clean technology used saves raw materials, and food is only produced as needed. In addition, food waste from restaurants, university canteens, markets, offices or households in the area can be processed into biomass in anaerobic digestion plants, which convert this food waste into energy. “Additionally, I’ve included solar panels and solar roof tiles to generate even more clean energy to grow crops.” In principle, the energy requirement is kept to a minimum by adapting the crops to the production sites that provide the best conditions in terms of energy savings and light quantity. “All waste streams are considered as potential resources. In my design, nearby residences benefit from the excess heat generated by the production facilities. The idea is to create as many technological and programmatic interactions as possible.”

More information

The entire thesis is available via the link below:

Adrianna Karnaszewska was accompanied by Roberto Cavallo, Freek Speksnijder and Alper S. Alkan.

Leave a Comment