During my reading this morning, LinkeIn delivered a handy email with a (presumed) student’s question about urban design studio practices. Here’s the article – hopefully y’all can read it. This was posted in a group focused on Urban Design, and I wanted to point out a few trends in the question itself, and in the comments.
1) Focus on “creativity” – what does the designer want to create on this wanting space?
2) Focus on physical attributes – scale, figure/ground analysis, environmental inventory
3) Where’s the food!?!?!? – All of the models discussed and books proposed assume that food will come from “somewhere else”.
I was reminded of a NPR story that aired a few years ago about an urban forager in the DC area. I immediately thought, “what if this guy didn’t have to work so hard?”. Why shouldn’t beds formerly planted with annuals or perennials (and in some cases Ornamental Kale) were planted with different varieties of greens and forage-able material? Well, why not? (hint: possibly because urban planners and site designers don’t account for agriculture as being necessary in urban locales, so it would be perceived as “weird, hippy nonsense” and that person would get fired.)
One of my fondest memories of my study abroad trip to Germany (coming up on five years ago, sheesh), was walking down the road, picking an apple, and eating the whole thing. That’s right, as an heirloom/native species, this apple had an edible core. And, it was incredible. My host mom would walk around the neighborhood seasonally and collect fruit from the trees and shrubs, and make a specialty jam that she would give to all her neighbors. Why isn’t that happening here?
Could it be that in a discussion of how to design urban communities, social interaction and food (intricately connected, from an evolutionary biology standpoint, but that’s another post) are absent from the discussion?