SUB URBAN AGRICULTURE
EXPROPRIATING LAND AND RE-ADDRESSING THE SUBURBAN CONDITION FOR THE PURPOSES OF FOOD SECURITY IN AN AGE OF OIL DEPLETION THOMAS BISHOP An
DARWIN COLLEGE in
ESSAY 4: PILOT THESIS of
RELEVANCE TO LITERATURE
THE HISTORY OF SUBURBIA
BACKGROUND FOUNDATIONS FACADES SEMI DETACHMENT CONCLUSIONS
THE AGRICULTURAL FARM CASESTUDY: UNIVERSITY FARM CASESTUDY: HARE FARM ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS CONCLUSIONS
PROPOSED SITE EXPROPRIATION OF FALLOW LAND USABLE GARDEN SPACE SOIL CONDITIONS SCALES AND YIELDS DISCUSSION
YIELDS & RETURNS CASH CROPS FIXED COSTS MACHINERY CALCULATING LABOUR DEMAND WORKER PROFILE
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN THE MEWS AS A LIVING ARRANGEMENT AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY COMPOST WATER HEATING SKETCH PLANS SHELTERING STRUCTURE DEVELOPING THE MASSING LOWERING AND EXCAVATING PROGRAMME SITE PLAN SHORT SECTIONS LONG SECTION AN AGRICULTURAL EDIFICE ACCESS AND USE AXONOMETRIC DETAIL PLANS NUTRIENT AND ENERGY CYCLES DWELLING LAYOUTS ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING
AMBITIONS AND AIMS
ABSTRACT This research explores the topical issues of providing a more sustainable and less carbon dependent living arrangement for a growing population in age of oil depletion when so many of our cities are already at capacity. Reintroducing localised food production to the residential condition, along with the associated architectural language and medley of functions is the chosen means of mitigating this issue that this research explores and aims to assess. The reintroduction of agricultural production into predominantly residential areas makes logical sense in terms of reducing supply chains by shortening the distances between the domestic food supply and its demand, and Suburbia provides the ideal locale. Spacious and verdant; the potential for converting its wasteful, non-productive landscape into something more has been long-overlooked and poses an interesting design problem, as well as a social and economic challenge for architecture to help resolve. The research will examine the topical issues contributing to the crisis of confidence in our current urban fabric and then discusses the theoretical framework for justifying this approach. Following that the paper will then address the questions surrounding why the Suburban condition needs challenging if it is has been so popular historically, and currently still provides such a well-established and desirable living condition. An assessment of the typical characteristics of the generic agricultural farm and its accomodation provision for seasonal workers will also feature as a means of further understanding the architectural language and inhabitation of the agricultural condition in order to understand how the two languages of agriculture and residential can be reconciled. The research also delves economically into scales of production, labour demand and management models to assess the practicality and deliverability of these proposals as a venture in their own right, alongside the architectural implications of these decisions. These practical investigations then feed holistically into the architectural design proposals for the scheme, which in keeping with the sustainability and minimal-carbon agenda established by the need are assessed against a number of environmental factors and credentials to establish their suitability and potential for practical inhabitation.
“” BY 2100 THE PLANET WILL NEED TO
ACCOMODATE OVER 9.5 BILLION PEOPLE, WITH MANY CITIES ALREADY AT CAPACITY.
“” FRUIT AND VEGETABLES CURRENTLY
ACCOUNT FOR THE SINGLE LARGEST CATEGORY OF AIR FREIGHT BY WEIGHT. BUT WHEN OIL HITS $250 A BARREL, THIS AGE OF THE 3,000 MILE CAESAR SALAD WILL COME TO AN END.
ON AVERAGE 25% OF ALL FRESH FOOD IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD IS THROWN AWAY AFTER BEING PURCHASED.
“” THE UK POPULATION IS ANTICIPATED TO RISE TO 70M BY 2100.
INTRODUCTION Our world today stands on the brink of an overpopulation crisis, one set against the backdrop of dwindling resources that will provide the defining challenge of this century according to a report released by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. The management of this population growth and consumption in cities though is where this crisis will be mitigated and solved. The report cites UN predictions that the worldâ€™s urban population that is growing by a million people a week, and one that will soar to at least ten billion by 2075. Running tangent to this are predictions that global crude oil production will peak within the next decade, right about the time that unfettered Chinese and Indian car ownership starts to catch up with the West. Despite discoveries of new oilfields, the supply is failing to keep pace with current consumption rates, business as usual simply cannot persist. Without intrinsic changes to our way of life the potential for massive degradation of our social fabric and natural environment is very real. This century will be a defining moment in human history, an intellectual triumph or fall. The broad discipline of architecture, with its innate link to the built environment, its ability to shape lifestyles and its potential for creative innovation thus has a crucial role to play in contributing solutions to these issues. Throughout history architecture has reacted to the challenges and injustices of the ages, and proven its ability to rejuvenate societies quickly and vigorously. Since the laboured mistakes of the late modernists however, architecture has arguably retreated from the great debates and unchecked, the consumer society has thus rampantly run is destructive course, fashioning an urban fabric which dissuades interaction and cooperation. This has in turn significantly affected our society, manifesting in instances of social-selfishness, narcissism and alienation, and there is no way of life that recreates these conditions or uses more energy than suburbia. The modern suburbs constitute an endless sprawl of households withdrawn from society, addicted to consumption and dependent on outsourcing their every need. These are ineffectual architectural models for living, plagued by short termism and likely to be exacerbated by the doubling of the global urban population. In the UK alone, the demands of its distended cities have already exceeded the supply available nationally, and food and energy security would suffer chronically from any net reduction in export from developing countries with swelling populations to feed and fuel. Consumers from industrialised countries have become accustomed to being able to choose from the global breadbasket when they go shopping, marketing having reduced seasonal variety to a folk-memory, as fruit and vegetables constitute the single largest category of air freight by weight, by far the most wasteful use of our resources. This divorce of production and consumption has psychologically distanced consumers from the implications of their purchases and the situation is an abominable waste of resources. Architecture cannot continue propping up this futile system, one unable to meet food and energy needs at a local level. Respected policy advisor and Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics Dr Robert Falkener suggests that a multitude of approaches will be necessary to overcome these crises;
including energy efficiency, developing renewable energy and most crucially, adapting our urban infrastructure to better our appreciation of consumption. Architecture is in short, essential to the solution. There is also the problem of addressing the energy-intensive practices we currently employ in planting, fertilising, harvesting and distributing agricultural produce. This system currently requires ten calories of hydrocarbon for every single calorie of food we eat. This colossal energy demand for our food currently stands at 0.6 litres of fossil fuel input involved in the creation of products as simple as a supermarket loaf. This high-energy method of food production seems unsustainable in the long-term, especially in an age of oil depletion. Unfortunately, the age of the 3,000 mile Caesar salad is coming to an end and our consumption will need to switch from outsourcing, back to local and regional interdependency. We need to start seeing our food production as part of the local infrastructure. The only rational solutions to these interlaced crises and demands are to either build or adapt cities to be as locally sustainable as possible, and introducing urban farming into cities is a viable function of this, one that meets with the Institute of Mechanical Engineerâ€™s requirements for reducing food miles and food wastage. In order to avoid the energy wasteful processes of having to rebuild everything, the adaptation and inclusion of urban farming in suburban locations would be the preferable to all the costs associated with mass rebuilding. Finally though the investigation will finally also present architecture with a means of recapturing the social dimension, and reclaiming its rightful place as a field of innovation, pioneering and human endeavour.
The world will have to accomodate, feed and provide for an additional 2.5 billion people in the next thirty five years.
RELEVANCE TO LITERATURE Henri Lefebrve was right to call the city an oeuvre or a work in progress; as the city condition is in fact in constant flux and draws on this strength everyday in order to grow, innovate and survive. It is Lefebrve’s philosophy that needs consideration when addressing the question surrounding our urban condition and its dependence on airfreighted and intensively farmed foodstuffs. Suburbia in particular encapsulates this inflexibility; its very existence in an age of oil depletion is called into question with the end of supermarket-dependent living. The most recent proposals from the architectural and sustainability communities favour introducing new ‘productive suburban landscapes’ as the means for mitigating the issues and establishing a precedent for how cities can provide more responsibly for their citizens. This tenet though needs to be assessed against the entrenched problems suburbia has with consumerism, inelastic design and the narcissistic tendencies of its population. This is well documented in literature, and an appraisal of this along with the adaptability of the farm typology should help to assess whether the proposition has the ability to reinvigorate the suburbs or if its potential is fundamentally compromised by suburbia’s car-dependent, consumerist inception and design. This approch also aims to evaluate the means by which agriculture can add social and political capital to an suburban environment, assessing the character and efficacy of its architectural language and the wider repercussions for the city and nation that it stimulates. In pursuit of this this understanding the research will seek to answer the following three questions: 1. What are the percieved problems with the suburban condition, how impending is its obsolescence and is there any flexibility in Suburbia to afford some future place for it in an age of oil depletion? 2. What does constitute the agricultural condition as a typology? 3. How can these two disparate spheres be combined; what architectural language is spawned to answer that and what are the social, political and economic ramifications of the process? The research will overlap with a number of other areas of academic debate and aims to make use of this thinking to both ground and enrich the design process. Firstly, my analysis of the history and social present of suburbia mirrors the broader problems of consumerism and individualism in society and will draw on of the sociological and psychological work of Richard Sennett and Friedrich Nietzche, in order to understand the story behind the scenes of Suburbia and the social, political and psychological investments in and implications of an isolated life of artifice. In addressing these themes, the investigations will also reference the architectural history of the suburbs including the work of John Soane and Ebenezer Howard as well as the social history of housing founin the work of Robert Fishman and John Burnett. The second topic of research will focus more practically on the farm typology, and will manifest itself in first hand observation and primary research of the defining characteristics and conventions of various modern farming models. This research will however briefly cover a number of scholarly aricles and reports on the state of farming in the UK as well.
Frank Lloyd Wrightâ€™s proposals for Broadacre City, where he argued that architecture and acreage should be united as worked best in times of antiquity.
The third section will be more theoretical however, drawing on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright in his ‘Living Cities’ where he pioneered the principle of mixed-use development of agriculture alongside residential and recreational functions back in the 1940s and 50s, considering their coalescence to be imperative to the city’s future. This research will also intersect the work of LeCorbusier in his ‘City of Tomorrow’ that also takes interest in suburban and communal farming. The paper will contrasting these proposals of the early modernists with reality and align them with more contemporary and topical input from Andre Viljoen, Michael Nairn and Micheal Sorkin with their research and design suggestions for the possibilities of continuous productive urban landscapes taking shape in cities . These are all well documented areas of study, but there is no one study that explores the application of these observations and designs to the unique landscape of the British Suburb. Frank Lloyd Wright and LeCorbusier came close but only ever conceived and proposed their more sustainable and edible suburbs as new-build locations, rather than discussing the issues of retrofitting an existing fabric. This absence may be explained in fhree ways. The association of these architects with the modernist movement of the 1960s which actively encouraged functional zoning and the inevitable plight of the modernist movement in the late sixties stunted the further development and advancement of the genuinely brilliant ideas laid out by Wright and Corbusier earlier in the century (Gold 2007). Secondly that architects have historically expressed a minimum of interest in agriculture or agricultural production until relatively recently, largely due to the percieved traditionalism of the farming community and contemporary increases in the awareness of climate change and sustainability (Viljoens, 2005). Thirdly, because the hegemony of Suburbia has not been challenged politically, economically or architecturally (Mumford 1961, Viljoen 2005, Sorkin 2010) and has instead been left to its own devices. This has confined attention in the architectural profession to more incremental efforts at addressing the issue, wrapped up instead in isolated, idelogical thinking and the one-off design of green houses and sustainable barns, rather than tackling the wider picture; the critical mass of the swelling global population, the depletion of oil resources, the need for more localised forms of food production closer to home and the end of the 3,000 mile caesar salad (Kunstler 2005). Architects need to step back into the fray and concerned themselves with tying these political and intellectual threads together in order to examine the kind of architectural language that these proposals could produce as well as the benefits they can confer on society. A variety of academic and practical approaches as well as input from varying professional fields ranging from psychology to history and economics will both inform and permit the research to undertake a more mature, multisciplinary approach and therein avoid the narrowing traps architects commonly fall into. Instead the work can openly address the wider scope of historical, and social dimensions of suburban farming as well as the architectural and spatial concerns. These issues being imperative, as they relate directly to my research questions as well and will hopefully establish a tried and tested design framework, rooted in both theory and practicality to help justify and raise awareness of the case and architectural need for suburban agriculture.
THE SUBURBS AS THE EPITOME OF COMMODITY-DRIVEN CONSUMER LIFESTYLES.
“” UP TO 60% OF SUBURBAN LAND LIES FALLOW AND UNDERUTILISED.
“” AN ISOLATED AND PLACID POPULATION.
THE HISTORY OF SUBURBIA Assess the impact suburbia has had on society, and given the well-mapped trends towards oil depletion, evaluate the adaptability and future of the suburban model by exploring its origins and historical development.
BACKGROUND Today the Suburb dominates Britain and much of the anglicised world figuratively, politically and economically, as well as housing most of these nation’s citizens. Their influence on the outcome of elections, the direction of markets and levels of national consumption cannot be underestimated, and yet in an age of oil depletion the need to re-examine the case for suburbia has never been more pressing as its list of demands constitute a huge drain on a finite pool of resources. The suburb itself was actually pioneered rather than conceived in the Eighteenth century by an unprecedented set of changes in attitudes and work habits, population growth and economics. It is only in recent times however that it has become recognished as constituting the epitome of modern consumption and only within the last few decades has understanding shifted towards a criticism of its individualism, car-dependence and reliance on vast oceans of imports. Instead, today Suburbia represents a residential model not to be held in any esteem given developing world tendencies to emulate Western practices, and so the question of its continued existence and expansion needs assessing as it approaches the potential end of its shelf-life in an age of oil depletion. This paper endeavours to answer these questions by investigating the cultural and economic origins of the suburbs to examine if there are is any evidence to support the potential for suburbia evolving to include more sustainable practices. In the first section ‘Foundations’ this investigation will cover Suburbia’s inception until the start of the industrial age and provide a sounding board to then chart and evaluate its historical rise, adaptation and wider impact on society in the second section; ‘Facades’ which will examine the emergence and impact of the nuclear family on residential design and city life during the Victorian period. Before finally evaluating its 20th century development into a mass model for living with the emergence of improved transport, plotted against new thinking on the psychology and sociology of the suburbs in ’Semi Detachment‘. Ultimately these three sections will test whether suburbia doesn’t merit the criticism it receives, and if is prime for adaptation or if it has rendered itself obsolescent.
The merchantâ€™s house of the renaissance bourgeioisie. The bourgeiosie were tied to the urban core by their market, and so the merhcantâ€™s family would reside in the floors above their workshops and stores.
FOUNDATIONS The suburb we are familiar with, of endless rows of detached houses with its sterility of activity and deafening silence is a relatively modern phenomenon, and if this contemporary suburb is defined as a peripheral zone in which people of means choose to live, then such an area was almost unthinkable in the pre-modern city. Work tied the affluent to the urban core where customers congregated and the bourgeoisie lived above the businesses they kept on the ground floor as shown in the illustration on the previous page, in a pattern relatively unchanged since the Renaissance. That isn’t to say it went without complaint though, the mix of uses created a ‘medley of neighbourhood’ with commentators of the period decrying the unsanitary mix disturbed spiritual thoughts, and yet at the same this was a situation accepted as the necessary evil of a better life found in the city. It was a fundamental shift in attitudes and perception of the city that would overturn this, eventually manifesting itself in the architecture of the suburbs. Seventeenth century philosophers like Rousseau initiated this dialogue criticising the demise of the modern city, sheer numbers having reduced it to a brawl of strangers and a theatre of crooks, which he contraposed with the virtues of the rural town where people were less imitative and more original. There was a growing desire to replicate the more familiar feudal ties of rural settlement and provide stability from a world in flux. Without a brick being laid the genesis of suburbia model was present in people’s minds as early as the turn of the 18th century. The agricultural revolution was the principal culprit of this overcrowding issue, as the amalgamation of feudal strips into fields had enabled new technologies to be put to use, reducing rural labour demand and fuelling an unprecedent population drift into the cities. However, the emergence of colonial trade and shipping in the seventeenth and eighteenth century was the major turning point, overseeing the relocation of almost all the smaller merchants to larger company ledger rooms. This was to be instrumental in the creation of the suburbs, as homes were thus liberated from their traditional patterns of use and could become wholly domestic environments. They were no longer constrained to the crowded districts of the urban core, and became a vessel free to port anywhere within a carriage ride of the urban centre.
The emergence of the shipping markets saw the foundation of the East India Trading Company with a monopoly on all trade east of the African Cape, including the trade-rich regions of the far east. The company soon grew to dominate the whole Indian Ocean, its operation exploding after the acquisition of Bengal from the Dutch in the 1750s, and the unprecedented opportunity for quick profit tempted droves of literate bourgeoisie to flock to work in its highly lucrative operation.This increased their affluence, in turn fuelling a trend for the relocation from their ageing urban properties. This trend was also being driven by an acute housing shortage in the urban centres where the subdivision of former bourgeois houses by landlords was creating unhygienic overcrowding. Once the Sanitary Enquiries of the early 19th century made the link between overcrowding, human filth and mortality rates, and offered statistics on life expectancies for different areas of the city, the poor became unacceptable neighbours and problems of disease and squalor saw the trickle of suburban-migration become a flood. This isn‘t suprising considering the conditions in British cities at the time, and so well captured by Gustave Doré in his illustration ‘A City Thoroughfare’, which suggests to the viewer that the city leaves its occupants uncomfortable, unclean and gasping for air. Robert Fishman begins his history of Suburbia here in the early nineteenth century, with the capital as it its birthplace, tracing its existence in a bourgeoisie flight from the squalor of the emerging frenetic coketown to the countryside. There is of course merit in this statement, but it ignores the wider origins of the suburbs in the colonies and the wider impact the world was having on Britain at the time. Take a typical suburban resident of the late 18th century, a merchant engaged in overseas trade or the financial operations that accompanied it, and likely to have colleagues who spent time in the colonies. He will have been familiar with his peers’ tastes and will have heard of the new districts that Anglo-Indian residents were living in, popularised by the Dutch buitenplaatsen or ‘sites outside the city’ as early as the 17th century; suburban living was well-established as the rule for the colonial elite. The British had continued and expanded this trend and entire districts emerged segregated along racial and economic lines, with whole communities engaged in autonomous distraction and nostalgia. This initial understanding of the genesis of the suburb seems to cast doubts over its future as a domestic environment though; a past rooted
in prejudice, isolation and distraction rather than healthy engagement with the outside world. This first critique instead highlighting Suburbia’s unsuitability to adaptation from its very inception. However, it was these returning merchants and their families, with their wealth and a newfound sense status that would actually spurn the trend for suburban development in Britain. These new suburban properties were built in the countryside, with all the allusions of a genteel life in the country conferring status to a returning class who’s familial origins and sources of wealth might be dubious. Thus colonial finance would fund this speculative development, converting the farm land rendered obsolete by the flood of cheap food from the colonies into a valuable location for new, exclusive residential districts; mercantile capitalism solving internal crises in the loss of agricultural land and domestic industry by reorganising geographical space in its own image. This argument is given substance when examining Regent’s Park development by John Nash, which was deliberately designed in likeness to the garden quarters of Calcutta to cater to mercantile tastes, and featuring Orientally-inspired architectural features including verandahs, gazeboes and bay windows. These new estates combining for the first time new colonial attitudes as well as growing fears of urban degeneracy in the city. They offered a ‘prophetic escape’ for respectable citizens to establish bourgeoisie dominion in the countryside and in this light, suburbia can be seen as a social experiment that sought to distance its inhabitants from society’s political life in the colonial fashion to which they had come to find familiar.
FACADES Regent’s Park was the largest suburban development at the start of the Nineteenth century, and accurately traces the market intentions that appealed to the newly affluent bourgeoisie. This century however, would be one in which suburbia would evolve from a relatively rare, aspirational model for living into the nation’s primary choice of living arrangement, fundamentally changing the shape of British society.
Revealingly, the first signs of this change are visible in the advertisements for Regent’s Park which promised streets designed so no villa would see another’, roads and houses laid out to cultivate a clear separation of public and private family life. This fundamental shift in design was premised on the emergence of the ‘separation of public and private life’ that hadn’t existed before the 18th century. The meaning of the term private changed from ‘government activity’ as it had stood since the middle ages and began adopting a more personified form antonymous to that of public. The term first appeared in 1709 with new philosophical insight into the duality of man and his two capacities ‘private and public’; the differences between the sheltered region defined by one’s family and friends apart from the arena of strangers. This arguably engendering what Marx termed ‘compensatory tendencies’ towards investing intense feelings in the family. This revolution in thought about spatial division and family would manifest itself in an unprecedented family pattern. This new, nuclear model was steeped in roles and internalisation, in a desperate attempt to recreate reassuring feudal relations among an urban population to help regularise behaviour in the family setting, as vulnerable children needed to know what to expect in order to learn trust outside the deceit of the modern city. Many families were first-generation recruits to this class and needed clear rules on behaviour, thus a code of etiquette became improvised and published to legitimise their new model, and as more and more affluent families elected to relocate, this social pattern came to influence domestic design. A shift was made away from the older Georgian layout of townhouses in which spaces were hierarchical but interconnected and where space was open to a variety of less formal uses. Speculative builders of the time were using published patterns rather than architectural plans and with so many competitors they were forced to adapt them to accurately reflect bourgeois desires. These villas were thus used to legitimise the bourgeois family model, as seen in the illustration on the next page they featured spaces reserved for particular family functions, enabling family members to isolate themselves from one another; adults from children and domestic staff from family. Representation replacing presentation.
The Victorian terraced house of the bourgeioisie. The urban bourgeiosie had been libreated from their traditional attachments to the urban core by advancements in transport. This had enabled the home to assume a wholly domestic role, and a growing majority of the bourgeoisie had elected to move out to these new terraced suburbs springing up around industrialised cities.
The new suburban home thus became ‘moral terrain’, with a code of etiquette to control social interactions at set times in set rooms, its rigidity seems stifling today and invites criticism of the emaciating effects on society. However, hindsight makes this critique easy perhaps because the capitalist economy has grown to be more orderly than in the 19th century when the bourgeoisie were first reacting to its turmoil the suburbs were simply a natural reaction to the conditions of the time and no more different or flawed than any other residential development. Suburbia’s colossal growth from 1815 to the turn of the century would highlight this as the pioneering of ‘commuter services’ along profitable routes encouraged its spread. First horse-drawn omnibuses, then suburban railways, trams and finally car ownership would each enable new ‘rings’ of suburban growth to encircle the cities, as well as the ‘filteringup’ of the artisans and working classes to join suburbia for the first time. It was C.F.Masterman’s journalism that really fanned the concerns surrounding Suburbia’s massive growth though, as a politician and journalist he wrote extensively on trends within society, charting suburban characteristics for being quiet, materialistic and disengaged from social, religious and intellectual concerns. His critique highlighting to us concerns that Britain was under threat of being reduced to a suburban cemetery. That an uncontrolled individualism was taking grip, one concerned solely with the advancement of the family and which could oversee the social fabric torn into its component threads. Masterman’s eloquence here highlighting a strong case for the negative societal consequences of suburbia and the implied desire for its obsolescence. The changes in attitudes were to be short lived however, the impacts of the Anglo-Boer and First World War would both see renewed interest in the suburban model as a tool for solving urban issues of overcrowding. Philanthropic estates like Bourneville in Birmingham had demonstrated the value of town planning and of Ebenezer Howard’s pioneering Garden City movement in improving health, wellbeing and productivity of their inhabitants.
Despite attempts to create new and mixed garden cities along these lines though, the long weekend between the two wars actually oversaw the largest wholesale expansion of suburbia since its inception; with over 3,998,000 new homes built. Suburbia by the interwar period constituted for the first time in history a place where a majority of people not only lived, but choose to live. This invited journalist Paul Oliver to question why the suburb attracted such widespread architectural criticism, musing whether it was because architects feared that suburban-semi met precisely the emotional and symbolic needs at of the occupants. Oliver mused that the suburban home’s minimum of five rooms actually provided the adequate separation of living, eating, sleeping and recreation needed for a virile life. This argument in praise of the suburbs is persuasive and does hold water when one considers post-war surveys of Milton Keynes’ new residential communities, where almost 95% of relocated residents expressed satisfaction with their lives and homes in the new town. Regardless of positive sentiment though, this argument ignores the fact that suburbia was adversely affecting society, engendering a world of artifice and a flight into abstraction and that the case for its continued persistence seems closed. However, Suburbia’s popularity actually highlights the fact that its inhabitants perceive value in the suburban arrangement and thus offers an even stronger case for the suburban model being willing to adapt, as its population would be unhappy to leave and more likely to choose adaptation over relocation.
SEMI DETACHMENT The post-war modern age oversaw the work of modernists transform the understanding of the domestic home from Ruskin’s ‘Temple of life’ with all its moral overtones, into a ‘Machine for living’, with space democratised and universal once again. Gender segregation was abolished in egalitarian, open-plan arrangements with disparate family functions reunited. It looked like the age of suburban repression was coming to an end, and indeed when massive inner-city developments incorporating residential apartments were being started in earnest it seemed to suggest a new era of ‘re-engaged city life’ was being ushered in.
The democratised and open-plan arrangement of the 1960s suburban home, which sought to erase gender segregation and encourage a healthier, less stifling living arrangement. Widespread car ownership had facilitated the cheaper, more accessible development of these new homes by constucting them even further out, right on the very peripheries of conurbations and in new commuter towns.
The world was entering a new age of prosperity and openness. Fuelled by a buoyant global market centred on consumables, a plentiful supply of cheap oil and improvements in living standards saw the differentials between manual and professional workers closed. This increase and spread in affluence alongside modernist planning desires for broader streets and quicker commutes saw car ownership spiral to unprecedented levels, reaching 10.5 million by 1980. Resultantly, the demand for suburban garage space rocketed and the construction market responded by delivering new Scandinavian-style detached houses, with wider plots as well as garage provision. Disappointingly though, for all its talk of â€˜egalitarian living arrangementsâ€™ the modernist house provided a life just as snobbish, uncultivated and competitive as before, and this can be seen in the final house illustration on the previous page. Considering how wealth was becoming classless it was engendering an increased desire to flaunt it and massive, plate-glazing now replaced the more conservative baywindows to announce the status of the increasingly nuclear family with their ski lodge fireplaces and televisions. For all the positive change in attitudes during the period very little actually had any influence on Suburbia though, the post-war period until the 1960s actually saw suburbia double in size again, breaking all records as successive government subsidies and social housing construction saw over three million more sububan homes built before 1957. What was more problematic though, was that this new form of suburbia was even more isolated than the previous; located on the very peripheries of cities they had no easy access to public transport and entire families came to rely cars for almost all journeys. Life denigrating into a series of seamless transitions between suburban environments; houses, shops, pubs and schools, deficient even in any of the unusual social interactions you might have had the chance of experiencing on a bus, train or tram. This existential poverty was not an isolated problem though, having wider repercussions with the onset of narcissism amongst all this artifice. Suburbanites had become unable to properly engage with their internalised emotions, and this was causing them to withdraw from and despise society. The very size and extent of suburbia seemed to be threatening the social fabric on an unimaginable scale, its impact was on society was becoming too overpowering, this understanding once again emphasising Suburbiaâ€™s toxic unsuitability to adaptation.
Nothing more eloquently captures this perversion of suburbia more than the emergence of the ‘search for an ideal man or woman’ in the 20th century. This search sees the rejection of any potential partner at the first hurdle as ‘clearly not the one’, and is a clear narcissistic exercise in the avoidance of reality and a fear of losing control that stems from Suburban attitudes ‘not to stick out’. This attitude is actually a mentality inculcated from a young age as suburban children are reared in an environment where there is no time for the love of distinctness and uniqueness. The intense family is thus the medium that freezes adolescents in stasis for life, suppressing their desire for curiosity and exploration. The persistence of the moral practices inherent to suburbia have actually managed to ensure the simplification and denigration social life in an age of technological invention. In this light it seems clear that ‘the social experiment of the suburbs’ had failed to recreate the desired ‘balanced, feudal order’, and instead has become a restrictive frame that has managed to neuter human creativity with a routine of distractions and withdrawal. This thought highlighting another strong argument that Suburbia’s impact on society has become problematic and reinforces the need to distance civilisation from its influence altogether. It is plausible to surmise then that the suburbia of the modern age has come full circle from its origins in the peripheral white exclaves of the colonies. Like the Anglo-Indian communities had spent their time in a form of endless distraction and nostalgia, engaged in an artificial attempt to recreate the life they’d led at home in the past, so too has the social experiment in the suburbs become exposed as a failed and artificial attempt to recreate the stabilising feudal order of the pre-modern city. Indeed, as we enter an age of oil depletion, global overpopulation and the potential end of supermarket-dependent living the question of the very future of suburban model depends on it adapting, and if it is fundamentally unable to it may point to its impending obsolescence. However, it would be poignant to add that the very growth of society depends on old routines breaking down to create new ones. To abandon and devise an entirely new living arrangement would only be falling prey to the same reductive, binary mindset of the suburb. The adaptation of its urban form would actually be preferable if it is at all possible, and would provide a more mature approach. Bringing change to suburbia’s doorstep could potentially help liberate its inhabitants from the fear of having to ‘be in control’, and could therefore even provide a positive living arrangement if it is possible to implement.
CONCLUSION In conclusion, the impact of suburbia on society has been significant indeed, its unprecedented growth from its non-existence less than three centuries ago to the situation today where it houses the largest majority of British and anglicised citizens and is absolutely central for better or for worse to the nation’s attempts at sustainability. Furthermore, the re-examination of the case for suburbia’s continued existence is only possible because of the far-reaching consequences that would ensue if it were ignored. So, as suburbia approaches the potential end of its shelf life in an age of oil depletion its assessment needs to draw on all of the three categories investigated to decide if there is a historical case for allowing suburbia to fall into obsolescence as an urban living arrangement. In ‘Foundations’, the emergence of suburbia was charted as being very much a product of its time, changes in economic work habits liberating homes from the needs of business, while these economic trends were also encouraging rural migration to already-overcrowded cities, spurning issues with squalor and disease that naturally encouraged the flight of a class who could afford to move. However, the suburbs were also a reaction to new colonial ideas of residential gentrification, which emphasises suburbia’s unattractive rooting in distraction and prejudice, a social experiment that sought to distance its inhabitants from society’s social and political life. In ‘Facades’, a renewed understanding of the public and private affairs of man and the city came to influence decisions made about suburban architecture, for the benefit of the vulnerable children who could only be taught to love away from the corruption of the city. Thus the home became a moral terrain, its rigidity stifling and inviting criticism as an example of suburbia’s attempts to warp society.
On the other side however, this criticism is unfair as it judges with hindsight about the modern conditions of industrial economics, when it was at the time merely a natural reaction to a world in flux. Furthermore, Paul Oliver’s questioning of suburbia’s critics supports this argument, as the suburbs were immensely popular places, meeting exactly the needs of their occupants. A tenet further reinforced by the suburban surveys in Milton Keynes which highlighted the case that the suburban model is suited to adaptation precisely because its population would not wish to leave. In Semi Detachment, the emergence of narcissistic tendencies presented the best argument in favour of suburbia’s obsolescence, highlighting how it has failed to recreate a balanced, social order and instead managed to neuter human creativity with a routine of distraction and withdrawal. However, the very growth of our society depends on confronting challenges and wearing down old routines, and to allow suburbia to drift into obsolescence and build again would be falling prey to the reductive, binary mindset of the suburbs. In response to this, highlighting what Oliver pointed out; we should accept that the suburban condition already meets exactly the needs of its occupants in a way few living arrangements have before, and so convincing over half the anglicised world’s population to relocate would not practical or even feasible. However, with the addition of localised food security, suburbia can be injected with a new lease of life to overcome its inherent issues. Instead investing new functions in the suburbs helping to mitigate issues of oil depletion and narcisstic isolation, the change to a more productive Suburban landscape could ultimately preventing suburbia from becoming obsolete and thus provides the preferred solution to the question of addressing Suburbia’s suitability as a future living arrangement. Suburbia as a productive landscape can thus encourage people to leave their comfortable, cellular existences and facilitate society’s coming into conflict in a play of urban interests. To start asking themselves more internal questions as part of everyday life and aid the building of a society composed of more-rounded, fully adult characters. This society being the key to the more creative, resourceful and sustainable cities we will need in the future.
FARM TYPOLOGY CASESTUDY
An investigation surmising the basics of the farm typology to establish what constitutes the fundamentals of the agricultural condition. This research will examine a range of farms and scales of production using first hand field work and observation, as well as secondary research in order to better understand the full breadth of the typology. Functional, spatial, architectural, material, inhabitation and environmental analyses all feature as part of the investigation.
THE AGRICULTURAL FARM The agricultural farm plays a significant role in the architectural, social and cultural fabric of the British countryside, they are the omnipresent feature of any landscape and were the pioneers of the streamlining of production that would spark the industrial revolution. The agricultural farm however, no longer supplies the majority, or even sizable minority of our food demand, which is overwhelmingly imported by air and ship. The farm does however generally supply some of the food we consume locally or regionally, and if we are to learn about reintroducing agricultural production into our cities then we need to start with a base understanding of the modern farm, examining the challenges and adaption that it faces. The green revolution of the postwar period marked the most significant change for the agricultural farm in recent years however, overeeing the evolution of the farm from the relatively unchanged labour intensive prewar model to the carbon-dependent mechanised one of the postwar. The use of combine harvesters, grain deshelling hoppers and forklifts soon became a standard for a modern Western farms within a decade of the second world war. These changes affected the way farms operated on a daily basis for the rest of the century, requiring new storage and maintainence facilities as the older buildings werenâ€™t adaptable. The machinery also reduced the need for labour as a lot of farms could now be run by the farming family alone without any assitance. A harder language of metal, machinery, concrete and corrugated steel was directly challenging the older agricultural older. This trend hasnâ€™t proved to be consisent in the long term however, as the 2004 European Directive 38/EC permitted freedom of settlement across the European Union and the availability of cheaper migrant labour has plugged a gap in the production supply that couldnt be met by further increasing mechanisation. This most recent change is an especially interesting one as it deals with reintroducing a residential dimension to the average farm alongside the more customary upgrading of facilities and equipment. This provides some suggestions for how farms have accomodated and adapted to these trends, what architectural language it has been involved and what lessons can be learnt.
Hare Farm, Cambridgeshire
Grange Farm, Derbyshire
University Farm, Cambridge
TYPOLOGY In order to select an appropriate building for understanding the existing conditions of agricultural farming and production three different sites were visited. With variations in practice and production being subjective and particular to each farm, the visits shed light on the specific characteristics and requirements, varying layouts and levels of inhabitation and use to offer an overview of what defines the farm typology, Each farm is a business in its own right, and deals with diifferent demands placed on it by its products, as well as market and regulatory forces. Thi manifested in very different and specific differences in facilities requirements but they generally kept to the following principles; Flexibility, Covered Storage, Weathertight Storage, Secure Storage for yields, Dedicated Maintainence Areas, Functional, Minimal Aesthetic Input, Year-round Accomodation, Seasonal Accomodation and Changing Areas. The two farms selected from the site visits to examine in more detail are deliberately contrasting. Hare farm is a historic hops and cereal farm that has developed organically over the last three centuries and currently supplies Cambridge and its constituent county with organic produce, vegetables and cereal. While the second casestudy Cambridge University Farm was designed and built in the twentieth century with a more structured layout designed to accomodate the necessary machinery of modern day farming for intensive, conventional agricultural production.
Farm House Accomodation
Vents for crop aeration
General Storage Barns
Workers’ Communal Kitchen
TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS With development going back over hundreds of years, certain architectural traditions and practices have been inherited by almost all farms, providing a a typical set of characteristics that are common across the United Kingdom. The farm is easily distinguished by the cluster of familiar buildings amid green and underinhabited fields. The farmâ€™s most obvious characteristic is usually the easy distinction between the quality of the farmhouse, which tends to be well-built and custom detailed, and the other barns, silos and storage houses which tend to be architecturally generic, but do have exceptions such as the vernacular Oast Houses. The exact quantity of these storage units can vary vastly between farms depending on their size and the products they produces, but typically a farm has no less than five storage buildings and rarely over 15 per location. The layout of these various buildings is typically organic and ad hoc as functions were added over the years as and when they were needed, creating overshadowed courtyards, bottleneck access routes and the general waste of space. More modern twentieth century farms tend towards a more structured and rectilinear layout, and resultantly suffer less of these issues, but are also less commonplace, accounting for less than 30% of the farming stock. Typical farms courtyards are usually cluttered with a variety of temporary strcutures housing chemicals, fertilisers or machinery parts and the general storage sundry of day-to-day agricultural practice. Many of these spaces could be more appropriately housed in weathertight structures though. The single biggest factor affecting farm design in recent decades has been the introduction of large scale machinery to agricultural production, this has had an influence on spatial design and layout, causing some buildings to be removed or rebuilt to permit access. However, their affect is seen most acutely in the more modern farms, which tend to the more spacious, rectilinear layout that can accomodate the turning circles and storage of this machinery.
ARRANGEMENT AND PRECEDENTS Clustered Centralised: Grange Farm Hare Farm
Structured Centralised: University Farm
Perimeter: Cooperativas Agropecuaria* Kolhoz & Sovkhoz Farms**
CHARACTERISTICS - Central to surrounding fields - Organic development - Ad hoc layout - Overshadowing issues - Inadequate daylighting to certain buildings
- Central to surrounding fields - Formal layout - Common in 20th C. farms - Less overshadowing and daylighting issues
- Bordering agricultural fields - Formal layout - Common in collective farms, especially urban periurban farms - Little or no overshadowing and daylighting issues
*Cuban agricultural cooperatives (collective farms) **Soviet state managed farms in the former USSR (collective farms)
LAYOUT The typical historic form of the farm sees the cluster of a number of storage units in an ad hoc arrangement around a central farmhouse however, there are typically two other types of layout and these three categories of farm have been termed; ‘Clustered Centralised’, ‘Rectilinear Centralised’ and ‘Perimeter’. The Clustered Centralised form provides the historical layout for the farm which had developed organically by adding buildings and functions as needed in an ad hoc fashion. The layout is central to the surrounding sprawl of the fields, but its unorganised clustered form isn’t suited to the turning circles of large scale agricultural machinery creating pinch points and bottlenecks. The form also lacks adequately planned storage and so there are a lot of temporary, non-weathertight storage structures and solutions cluttering the yards and courtyards. The uncoordinated construction of various functional builidings also creates problems with overshadowing and daylighting in some of the buildings used for housing seasonal workers. The Rectinear Centralised form provides the typical layout of a 20th century farm which has been adapted to accomodate the mechanised processes of modern farming. The layout is central to the surrounding sprawl of the fields, but is structured and spaced logically allowing for the turning circles of large scale agricultural machinery. The farm provides adequately planned storage and so there are little or no temporary, non-weathertight storage structures and solutions cluttering the yards. The coordinated construction of various functional builidings also ensures less issues with overshadowing and daylighting in some of the buildings used for housing seasonal workers. The Perimeter form is typical of some of the twentieth century Collective state farms found in Cuba and the former Soviet Union. The layout is peripheral to the area of arable land, as the fields are often found in urban and periurban areas and have to maximise on arable space without locating all of the functions centrally. It is structured and spaced efficiently providing adequately planned storage and so there are little to no temporary, non-weathertight storage structures and solutions cluttering the space. The peripheral location of the various functional builidings also ensures there are practically no issues with overshadowing and daylighting. This model in particular provides particularly an interesting castestudy for the location of any farming on suburban land, where arable land will be split into patches across the suburbs and unavailable in a clustered form suitable for one of the more centralised farming arrangements.
CASE STUDY: University Farm Total Acreage Arable Acreage Built Volume Crops Scale of Production
2600 acres 1650 acres 93 517 sq m Winter Wheat, Beans, Barley, Dairy. Conventional Intensive
Cambridge University Farm was established at Impington in 1900, just after the establishment of a Department of Agriculture at Cambridge. Later in the century the operation moved to Gravel Hill, just off Huntingdon Road, which is still part of the farm. The Department of Agriculture closed in 1972 and the farm became part of the Department of Applied Biology. The University Farm is now a commercial business, wholly owned by the University of Cambridge and is part of Estate Management. The Farm currently extends to approximately 2600 acres (1085 hectares), spread around the western edge of Cambridge, from Barton to Lolworth and is also close to the villages of Girton, Coton, Madingley and Hardwick. In places the land abuts onto densely populated areas and here much of the farm is urban rather than rural, with numerous associated problems. The farm is divided and severely affected by the M11, A14 and A428, which intersect in its centre, as well as Madingley Road and Huntingdon Road. The soils are variable, ranging from a small area of gravel soils adjacent to Huntingdon Road, where the potato agronomy unit is based, to heavy Boulder Clay and even heavier Gault Clay over most of the farm. The majority of the land (66%) is owned by the University, whilst the remainder is tenanted from eight different landlords, including Trinity, St Johnâ€™s, Jesus, Downing and Girton Colleges, as well as the Cambridge Preservation Society and the Ministry of Defence. The arable area is approximately 1650 acres (668 hectares), comprising predominantly winter wheat, winter beans and a small area of winter barley. The remaining land is grassland which supports dairy, beef and sheep enterprises. The large-scale keeping of livestock in Cambridgeshire is unusual, but one of the obligations of the University Farm is to provide adequate teaching material for the Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine. The Farm has a large number of relatively small, awkward-shaped fields which are totally unsuited to modern farming activities. The dairy unit was relocated to Park Farm, Madingley in 1997, to make way for development on the West Cambridge Site. In association with this move, the dairy unit has been refurbished so that the cows are now accommodated in cubicles and milked automatically by robotics.
Management Offices Total volume dedicated to managerial and office functions.
Accomodation Total volume devoted to housing workers and seasonal staff.
Crop Aeration Total volume dedicated to the drying and processing of crops.
Machinery Storage Total volume devoted to teh weathertight overnight storage of machinery.
Crop Storage Total volume dedicated to the storage of the farmâ€™s yields.
PROGRAMME Better understanding the built volume of the typical conventional farm will provide some insight into the spatial priorities of the average farm and establish a design framework for agricultural interventions. The analysis of the programme of the University Farm reveals some intriguing statistics, highlighting that storage alone; machinery (18%) and crops (62%) account for a surprising 80% of the built area of the farm.This storage is used for functions varying from the relatively open-sided sheltering of animals to the weathertight storage of machinery and crop yields, but in general terms the housing of the farmâ€™s equipment and produce accounts for a staggering fourth-fifths of its built volume. Only 2.5% is devoted to managerial purposes, and despite quite a large staff roll list accomodation only accounts for 7.5%. By contrast crop aeriation, important for the safe storage of the precious yields accouns for a clean 10% of the built area.
Sanitary and simplistic temporary accomodation
First Floor Plan
Minimal and functional kitchen provision
A shower room and changing area establish a segregated, sanitary threshold at the front of the house
Ground Floor Plan
INHABITATION The University farm provides temporary accomodation for some of its staff and seasonal workers, this is provided in a three bed house hidden behind the storage barns at the edge of the built-up farm site, This accomodation is fairly basic and sanitary, rooms are furnished in a spartan and hassle-free way to account for the routine turnover of agricultural workers. Interestingly though, showers and a changing bench are provided by the entrance to the property, and lobbied off from the rest of the dwelling. This enables workers to change out of overalls and shower before entering the house proper. This threshold condition provides a logical sanitary means of keeping the accomodation hygienic and segregated from the outdoor activities which might invole dealing with animal births, manure and chemical fertilisers.
Slate Tiles and Vapour Check
Loadbearing Masonry Walls
Loadbearing Masonry Walls
10 Butt-Jointed Timber Floor Joists - Typical Span 10.2 metres
Concrete Strip Foundations
CONSTRUCTION The workerâ€™s accomodation is constructed as a conventional house, loadbearing masonry walls provide the basis of the structure, which sit on standard concrete strip foundations. The floors are constructed in similar functional manner with butt-jointed timber floor joists spanning a typical distance of no more than 1020mm at rigorous 400mm centres, the roof is finished with slate tiles and vapour membranes for watertightness.
STORAGE The storage provision at the University Farm varies dramatically from open-sided animal husbandry sheds, to airtight and weatherfast crop aeration chambers. Almost all of this storage provision is naturally ventilated for the crops and animals inside. All the storage buildings do without insulation and typically comprise a single leaf corrugated steel construction mounted onto a steel frame, or loadbearing exposed brick and blockwork walls. The aesthetic pallette is deliberately raw, one of industrial functionalism and materiality ‘fit for purpose’. Finance is not lavished on these structures, which have to withstand considerable wear and tear in their daily use. To suggest hempcrete walls or cladding systems would be too refined and delicate for their location, any architectural proposals for suburban farming must embrace the stressed need for ‘functionality’ and ‘fitness for purpose’.
CASE STUDY: Hare Farm Total Acreage Arable Acreage Built Volume Crops Scale of Production
1500 acres 975 acres 55 679 sq m Hops, Winter Wheat, Asparagus, Lamb. Organic
Hare farm dates back to the 16th century when it was purchased from a local aristocrat and the farm house itself dates back to this period. The farm has always been and is still a commercial business, continuing the tradition of growing hops and wheat on the site as it has done since the sixteenth century. The Farm is a medium sized landholding, currently covering approximately 1500 acres (606 hectares), towards Newmarket but located just inside the Cambridgeshire boundary. The farm occupies an exclusively rural condition. The soils are good, ranging from a gravel soil to some heavy Boulder Clay and even heavier Gault Clay over most of the farm. The whole of the land is owned by the Hare family, and adminstered by them with campsite provision and well as agricultural holding. The arable area occupies approximately 975 acres (399 hectares), comprising hops, winter wheat and asparagus with the remaining land is grass to support sheep enterprises. The unusual roof structure of this particular farm is explained by the presence of three oasthouses used for drying and storing the hops before sale or fermentation. The Oasts were built around 1840 and for the following 130 years it was the kingpin on the farm when hops were Hare Farmâ€™s main crop and income. A lucrative crop in their heyday, hops gradually lost their viability in the 1960s though. The 1970 season was the oastâ€™s last and since then, the oast has been a redundant building, no longer useful for modern farming methods.
Management Offices Total volume dedicated to managerial and office functions.
Accomodation Total volume devoted to housing workers and seasonal staff.
Crop Aeration Total volume dedicated to the drying and processing of crops.
Machinery Storage Total volume devoted to the weathertight overnight storage of machinery.
Crop Storage Total volume dedicated to the storage of the farmâ€™s yields.
PROGRAMME Better understanding the built volume of the typical organic farm will provide some insight into the distinguishing differences in spatial priorities between the average farm and its organic counterpart. The aim is that this will help establish a design framework for agricultural interventions. The analysis of the programme of Hare Organic Farm reveals some very similar statistics to the conventional farm, again highlighting that storage alone, machinery (12.5%) and crops (71%) accounts for more than four-fifths (83.5%) of the built area of the farm. This storage is used for functions varying from the relatively open-sided sheltering animals to the weathertight storage of machinery and crop yields, but in terms of housing the farmâ€™s produce in an identical fashion to the conventional farm it accounts for over 80% of its built volume. Less is devoted to managerial purposes but not by a significant enoughmargin to highlight any severe differences, and again despite being quite labour intensive, its accomodation only accounts for 6.5%, but presumably this can be explained by the reduced scale of the farm in comparison with the conventional example. Crop aeriation remains relatively unchanged however, the safe storage of the farmâ€™s yields again accounts for almost one-tenth (9%) of the built area.
Sanitary and functional temporary high density bunk bed sleeping accomodation
First Floor Plan
Shower room and changing benches establish a segregated, sanitary threshold to the front of the house
Minimal and functional kitchen provision
Ground Floor Plan
INHABITATION OF DWELLINGS As an relatively labour intensive organic producer, Hare farm provides temporary on-site accomodation for some of its staff and seasonal workers, and this is provided in a series of dorms furnished with bunk beds located in a large house found behind the main storage barn. This accomodation is again fairly basic and sanitary, rooms are furnished in a functional way to due to the quarterly turnover of agricultural workers the farm employs to help with asparagus picking. As if mirroring the practices employed in the conventional farm a sanitary threshild condition to the front of the house also features on this farm. Furnished with four showers and a changing area as well as a small locker room the rooms are lobbied off from the rest of thehouse This again enables workers to change out of their overalls and shower before entering. This threshold condition providing the same logical and sanitary means of keeping the accomodation hygienic and segregated from the outdoor activities. The deeper plan and larger dorm rooms however are not as effective in providing adequate daylighting for internal activities even in the middle of the day. The uncoordinated, clustered arrangement of the farm conspires against its functional use as overshadowing from neighbouring storage buildings along with deep room plans create a gloomy and underlit space, reliant on artificial lighting for the majority of the day. As a design precaution I will therefore be aiming to minimise the distances light has to penetration into my scheme by maintaining a shallow plan and rationalising the farm layout(s) to prevent overshadowing issues.
Slate Tiles and Vapour Check
Loadbearing Masonry Walls
Loadbearing Masonry Walls
.5 12 Butt-Jointed Timber Floor Joists - Typical Span 12.5 metres
Concrete Raft Foundation
CONSTRUCTION The farmâ€™s accomodation is also constructed rather conventionally house, loadbearing masonry walls provide the structural envelope, ont which sits on a standard concrete raft foundation. The floors are also constructed in similar functional manner with butt jointed timber floor joists spanning a typical distance of no more than 12500mm at rigorous 400mm centres, while the roof is finished with clay tiles and the usual vapour membranes for watertightness.
STORAGE The storage provision on the organic farm varies as much as the conventional model; open-sided animal husbandry sheds neighbour airtight and weatherfast hops drying houses. Almost all of the storage provision is naturally ventilated though, and again all the storage buildings do without insulation. The storage units typically comprise a single leaf corrugated steel construction mounted onto a steel frame, or in the vernacular tradition feature loadbearing exposed brick walls complete with tiled roofs. The aesthetic pallette is still quite raw though, just not quite as industrial as the twentieth century conventional farm as Hare farm has a longer standing architectural inheritance with its vernacular buildings. But predominantly the material focus is still of relative functionalism and fitness for purpose within the historical planning regulations. Again it stands to bear that suggesting hempcrete walls or cladding systems would be too refined and delicate for the farm typology and despite the more refined architectural verancular at hare farm, the design observations still highlight the fact that architectural proposals must embrace the stressed need for ‘functionality’ and ‘fitness for purpose’ in their chosen materiality.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS Historically characterised by mild winters, cool summers and rain at least twice a month, the British climate poses a fairly conventional challenge for any architectural intervention. However, a well-known idiom states that Britain has weather and not a reliable climate, and it is instead this logic that will dictate the environmental testing that the farms need to be evaluated against. Considering in recent decades that the sun can no longer be relied upon to shine in May anymore than it can in August or October, and that summer can now be the wettest time of year, Britainâ€™s weather patterns have become ever more disparate and subject to extreme fluctuations. In designing to meet these ever changing weather conditions, a typical farm should look to maximise on its available daylight both direct and diffuse to help reduce energy demands for both lighting and heating, as well as ensuring it is designed to cope with flash flooding, expansion issues in unusual heatwaves and extreme cold in winter.
Spring Wind Average
Summer Wind Average
Spring Sun Path and Exposure
Summer Sun Path and Exposure
Autumn Wind Average
Autumn Sun Path and Exposure
Winter Wind Average
Winter Sun Path and Exposure
SOLAR RADIOATION (W/m2)
AVERAGE ANNUAL SOLAR RADIATION
TOTAL SUNSHINE HOURS
AVERAGE DAYLIGHT HOURS
AVERAGE ANNUAL DAYLIGHT HOURS
SUMMER SOLAR RADIATION - Ground Level University Farm
Average Daily Radiation June 1st - August 31st Cambridge: 52.205°N, 0.119°E
Average Daily Direct Radiation June 1st - August 31st Cambridge: 52.205°N, 0.119°E
Average Daily Diffused Radiation June 1st - August 31st Cambridge: 52.205°N, 0.119°E
SUMMER SOLAR RADIATION - Internal Levels University Farm
Solar Insolation Daily Average June Typically June averages range 400 - 2400 Wh
Daylighting Factor Average June
WINTER SOLAR RADIATION - Ground Level University Farm
Average Daily Radiation Deecmeber 1st - 28th February Cambridge: 52.205°N, 0.119°E
Average Daily Direct Radiation Deecmeber 1st - 28th February Cambridge: 52.205°N, 0.119°E
Average Daily Diffused Radiation Deecmeber 1st - 28th February Cambridge: 52.205°N, 0.119°E
WINTER SOLAR RADIATION - Internal Levels University Farm
Solar Insolation Daily Average December December averages range 72 - 172 Wh
Daylighting Factor Average December
SUMMER SOLAR RADIATION - Ground Level Hare Farm
Average Daily Radiation June 1st - August 31st Newmarket: 52.2459°N, 0.4105°E
Average Daily Direct Radiation June 1st - August 31st Newmarket: 52.2459°N, 0.4105°E
Average Daily Diffused Radiation June 1st - August 31st Newmarket: 52.2459°N, 0.4105°E
SUMMER SOLAR RADIATION - Internal Levels Hare Farm
Solar Insolation Daily Average June Typically June averages range 400 - 2400 Wh
Daylighting Factor Average June
WINTER SOLAR RADIATION - Ground Level Hare Farm
Average Daily Radiation December 1st - February 28th Newmarket: 52.2459°N, 0.4105°E
Average Daily Direct Radiation December 1st - February 28th Newmarket: 52.2459°N, 0.4105°E
Average Daily Diffused Radiation December 1st - February 28th Newmarket: 52.2459°N, 0.4105°E
WINTER SOLAR RADIATION - Internal Levels Hare Farm
Solar Insolation Daily Average December December averages range 72 - 172 Wh
Daylighting Factor Average December
Summer Daylight Factor
Winter Daylight Factor
Summer Daylight Factor
Winter Daylight Factor
Adequately Lit Dormitory University Farm
Underlit Dormitory Hare Farm
DAYLIGHTING ANALYSIS This comparison of analyses can be used to evaluate the layout and design options available for accomodating agricultural workers in smaller, shallower bedrooms or deeper plan bunk dormitories. As a standard the most appropriately-lit rooms in houses have a daylight factor of 3 as a minimum, and based on that measure the deeper dormitory plan from Hare Farm is failing significantly, where 85% of the room is underlit, giving it and the whole house that gloomy atmosphere. This level of daylighting is entirely inadequate for day-to-day use, and will require the near-continuous use of artificial lighting even during the heigh of summer. When contrasted with the shallower bedroom plan from University Farm, the daylighting levels achieve a minimum of 3 across the whole room and highlight the case for employing shallow plans and for more rectilinear rather than clustered built arrangements in order to minimise overshadowing, as well as helping to reduce the energy demands of the proposals.
TYPOLOGY CONCLUSIONS The average agricultural farm as a typoogy is rooted in the historical inherented farmstead, a model that remained relatively unchallenged until the postwar period, but has since had to adapt quite dramatically in order to accomodate new methods of production for deliver ing the same products in a more economically viable way. It was the postwar introduction of mechanisation to farming that oversaw a trend for retrofitting and the reconstuction of certain farms to meet with the new spatial requirements for the turning circles and storage of large machinery, which were never issues before. Agricultural storage requirements have since soared further and today contistute the bulk of any farm’s built fabric, accounting for a staggering average of four-fifths of its built volume. These storage units and houses have also established much of the architectural language of the typical farm, which isn’t apologetic for its raw and industrial aesthetic pallette that focuses on functionalism and materiality ‘fitness for purpose’. These structures have to withstand considerable wear and tear in their daily use and there is little time for ornamentation. There are notable exceptions to this of course in the more historic farms with their vernacular forms, and I hope to draw on the lessons of both to deliver a suitable architectural language for a suburban farm. The typology research also made clear that the arrangement of an agricultural farm is key to its efficient day-to-day running. The reconstruction of a larger number of existing farms in the twentieth century along more rectilinear or perimeter layouts testifies in favour of this and underlines how the tweaking of an arrangement can distinguish between a profitable farm and a struggling one, and how imperative it is that architecture keeps abreast of the trends, changes and threats to our lifestyles. The study of the arrangement models also highlighted the importance of dealing with overshadowing issues in plan and layout in order to ensure habitable buildings have adequate access to daylight. This is an important design consideration in order to help reduce the farm’s energy consumption but also to ensure a comfortable level of inhabitation for the seasonal workers that have become re-established as a common feature of British farms since the 2004 EU directive on rights to settlement. These workers have added a number of new spatial and functional requirements to farms, including the use of sanitary thresholds to provide changing facilities and showers for cleaning before entering accomodation, as well as the need for a better-lit and better-quality standard of accomodation. This new standard should make use of shallower plans and recognise the human need for incorporating recreational and communal spaces in worker accomodation. My continued research from this point on will focus on the perimeter threshold condition of the suburban field to maximise on efficient layout, daylighting and suitability to modern mechanised agricultural practices. Working with the environmental, social and political issues surrounding the introduction of agriculture to an existying residential environment, through a design process I will evaluate the use of inhabiting this space and speculate on its suitability for the purposes of a valid architectural model for agriculture.
EXPROPRIATION The proposed use of fallow suburban land for agricultural production will invariably entail the expropriation of land owned privately by homeowners. This is a contentious issue however, it could be construed as land seizure and actively resisted by the suburban residents who are key to the schemeâ€™s successful implementation. Questions of whether the reduced gardens will still provide adequate recreational space for families, who exactly will manage and tend to the crops, what the soil conditions can support and what scale of production would be most effective with the area of land available all still lie unanswered. All of these practical questions are equally relevant in assessing the viability of the proposals and this section investigates endeavours to investigate them in the aim of garnering further design principles and constraints that can help shape and hone the proposals.
PROPOSED SITE Edgbaston, Birmingham 52°28′59″N 1°53′37″W Population 20,749 Site is highlighted in relation to the rest of the Edgbaston suburb and Birmingham conurbation.
Edgbaston, Birmingham 52°28′59″N 1°53′37″W
EXPROPRIATION OF FALLOW LAND The proposal to reintroduce agriculture into the suburbs would be part of a wider plan to turn cities into a continuous productive urban landscape. This process as already outlined, would have to involve the expropriation of the fallow garden space in the suburbs, as it taps a hugely unexploited area of available land within cities, and it is precisely because the suburb is so prolific that this land is available in all urban areas around the country. These appropriations would be problematic though, as the land is privately owned by individuals or by the banks they have mortgages with, who may be resistant to the idea. The alternative of organising the land along a cellular or allotment format, with each household adminstering their own section with the confines of their garden provides one solution to avoiding this issue, and is one which will be assessed later in the document, but arguably this solution is a handicapped one. Most importantly an allotment-basd approach lacks the benefits inherent to larger scale production; the use of mechanisation, the benefits of economies of scale, the pooling and division of labour as well as resources all of which arguably make production more efficient. A Compulsory Purchase Order could be arranged by municipal or government authorities to circumnavigate this legal issue and ensure the plots can be unified into larger fields, but would do little to placate the owners or encourage their all important involvement in the enterprise and its wider social and lifestyle changes. Instead, an incentive scheme would be preferable, one where homeowners would exchange the use of their underutilised land for a share of the yields or the profits. This would allow the authorities or management to effectively lease the land from the homeowners and provide returns from it. Such a system would be far more pallatable for the suburban homeowners and would also help to ensure their interest in consuming the products, attending the markets and participating in the social events that would emerge alongside the new agricultural sector. In this way agricultural intervention can also work to achieve some social good as well, directly challenging the current suburban model of consumption and isolation.
This unified format would subtract roughly 60% of each suburban garden to create a sizeable field to the centre of each suburban block. These obviously vary in size, but according to the study of one square kilometre in suburban Edgbaston, would provide almost 20 hectares of arable land, or an average of 3.4 hectares per block. At an average of 3.4 hectares per block, wheat grown on this plot at a density of 200 bushels a hectare will yield 7400 kgs of cereal, this being enough to provide a yearâ€™s worth of breakfast cereal or bread to feed the 24 households on the block, with enough spare for a further 22. Turning 20 hectares of fallow, underutilised land into productive landscape would be no mean feat either, claiming and turning over a fifth of the land area over to food production, and providing an alternative location for agricultural production aside from the rural countryside, much of which is already intensively farmed at or near its capacity. The system would also preferable to the loss of nature reserves and national parkland, which is so important to achieve the biodiversity and wealth of ecology necessary to support agricultural production. Instead the proposals would be employing currently dormant, non-productive landscapes for the purposes of improving food security and addressing our utter dependence on the unsustainale, carbon-intensive, airfreighted foods we buy week-in week-out in supermarkets across the country. Instead the suburbs can be transformed into a crucible for the revolution of food production, consumption and urban living, the kind that could be rolled out nationwide quite effectively, and with widespread positive implications for our lifestyles, cities and society.
USABLE GARDEN SPACE Part of the process of land expropriation will involve the inevitable reduction of suburban gardens to free up the space for crops and agriculture. The question of how to reduce the external space without impact on a family’s all important access to outdoor recreation space, storage and the potential for gardening is an imperative one to address if the land expropriation process can be justified. This investigation started with research into the current Buildings for Life and Lifetime Homes guidelines surrounding garden usage in British housing developments. They highlight a number of requirements, but generally illustrate how a minimum of 40 square metres is required to provide: - A 5metre Diameter Play Space (19.25 sqm) - Storage for two wheelie bins (1.6 sq m) - Room to accomodate a storage shed ( 4.5 sqm) - Space to accomodate one barbeque (2.25 sqm) - Room to fit a four person outdoor seating space (4 sqm) - Space to grow a tree and flower beds A space that accomodates and conforms to these requirements as a base minimum with some additional space, would provide practical rear gardens that exceed the current standards met by commercial housing developers. This investigation was thus able to prove that any changes inflicted by the land expropriation wouldn’t actually adversely hamper a family’s access to space, light, air and recreation, as the gardens would provide for more than what legislation and contemporary commercial developers currently do.
The consequences of the reduction would enable around 60% of the suburban garden space to be appropriated for the purposes of agriculture. In reality though the rear building line extents of suburban houses vary with extensions and modifications and so the eight metre line indicated in the earlier block diagram will likely have to be extended to ensure the garden meets the adequate standard for all the houses. This will likely result in some gardens that are larger than their neighbours, but at least no one property will be inconvenienced by the change. This investigation has proved that the expropriation would be practical from the viewpoint of maintaining a viable standard of living, and that the process would be something pallatable for suburbanites to swallow. Considering a straight and even edge condition can be realised as well, this will permit the architecture to include a proposition that might deal directly with that threshold between the suburban and agricultural condition, as well as other factors. The ambition being that some of the houses and the edge condition could actually be inhabited as part of a strategy for integrating the proposition to the architectural setting of each suburban street.
SCALES OF PRODUCTION AND CROP ROTATION
Organic Farming Production
Four Crop Rotation: - Wheat - Snap Peas - Oats - Fallow (bees)
Hyrdoponic Farming Production
SOIL CONDITIONS In order to test and better understand what would be practical and feasible to achieve in agricultural terms in Edbaston a number of soil tests were carried out to distinguish what the characteristics of the soils were; its acidity or alkalinity, clay or sand consistency. These tests would then be able to inform the kind of plant life the soils could support, and the kind of crops and agricultural production available without further remedial measures. A soil pH test was carried out by filtering local soil through water and then siphoning the settled mix into a separate bath. To this bath was added a litmus capsule which reacts with the acid levels and changes colour, indicating the soilâ€™s pH. Four tests were carried out with samples from different gardens to control for any errors or deviations in the ground consistency and to provide a method for establishing a more accurate average reading. The soil was however, relatively consistent in testing neutral to mildy alkaline. This result is generally accepted as signature of a very mild soil and one suited to planting a wide range of plants without any additional remedial measures. The availability of major nutrients is at its highest at this pH range too, while bacterial and earthworm activity is at its optimum too and so the opportunities for planting are not constricted by the soil conditions, which would in theory support and yield a healthy crop. Some more acidic plants such as tomatoes though, may require some minor conditioning of the soil. Sulphur and iron sulphate provide two possible acidifying agents that can be added to reduce the pH if these crops are selected though.
GEOLOGICAL RESEARCH Calcium carbonate testing of the soil with vinegar also revealed trace levels of the substance in all four samples, which helped to also explain the presence of mild alkalinity in the vicinity but led to a curiosity for why it was found in the location. In conducting further research, the calcium carbonate deposits are actually relics of the last ice age. They are found across the suburb and city due to minor glacial fluvial deposits left by the movement of the glaciers thousands of years agp rather than any presence in the body of the soil naturally. Edgbaston actually straddles a gap between two water courses, as well as the â€˜Birmingham Faultâ€™ which runs just to the West of the site. Here a sandstone ridge meets a mudstone formation and the fault actually encourages the water table to rise around this area, with access to plentiful ground water. Both stone types provide a sturdy ground condition for large scale architectural intervention though, both at and below ground level as the possibilities of the ground moving or settling are practically negligible.
EARLY DESIGN SKETCHES Initial design ideas focused on inhabiting one or more of the existing suburban houses, adapting them or parts of them for the purposes of crop processing and storage to provide an architectural bridge or link between the expropriated fields of production behind and the suburban streets in front which provided access to the road network and markets for the products, The first skteches and attempts were very crude though, failing to properly deal with the threshold of agriculture and suburbia by concealing the process inside an existing facade, and later attempts still exuded that closed pod-like aesthetic, which only served to distract from the wider aims and implications the project has for Suburbia, food security and cities in general. A decision was made to embrace the new threshold condition at the edge of the arable land and backing up against the suburban gardens, the thinking was that if that condition, the most difficult and painful change could be dealt with as the focus, then it would provide a turnkey for the success of the scheme in other less challenging locations.
SCALES AND YIELDS Research into the available scales of production seemed the next natural step, as the calculations of their yields would establish which crops were commercially viable, and could establish precedents for what kind of storage and processing facilities were needed. An architectural framework could then be drawn up and the design could proceed with purpose. Initial investigations highlighted how the yields of the allotment model trailed conventional and organic production by up to 50%. Intensively farmed conventional agriculture seemingly came out to be the most lucrative of all the operations available, beating organic yields by over £200,000 in certain scenarios. This research tended to support the case for conventionally farming the expropriated land until the Cuban model was considered. The US naval blockade of Cuba since the 1960s has resulted in a shortage of available petrochemical pesticides and fertilisers, and so problems were also solved by organic means; bio-pesticides and fertilisers were developed as alternatives. Organisms like Azotobacter: a nitrogen-fixing organism and Vesicual Arbusclar Mycorrhizal inocculants: a fungi that colonises plants roots and doubles their nutrient uptake are two such examples of the discovered bio-fertilisers mass-produced in their research laboratories. As a direct consequence of these developments Cuban yields have increased by over 200% from 12kg/m² to 25kg/m², a figure far higher than in organic practices in the developed world.
Understanding this changes the conclusions of the study too though, as doubling the organic yields would cause them to match conventional yields but with a higher retail price per product leading to greater profit. The case for organic production seems clear, and would be preferable when one considers the impracticality of spraying fertilisers and pesticides within metres of people’s homes. Introducing productive landscapes to cities would provide a major break with the laissez-faire approach of governments though, which appear to view changes that limit the operation of the free market as flawed. However, if fundamental issues such as sustainable food security are to be explored then the market simply cannot be left to its own devices and thinking about social and ecological processes needs to become more holistic.
The potential of the model is colossal though, as there would also be a general diminution in the municipal living costs of cities, with scaledback needs for waste collection, drainage and even sewerage, due to new ways of dealing with them through urban agriculture. This increased autonomy allows taxes to be freed for other purposes, such as the creation of low-tax enterprise zones to attract more businesses and employment beneficial to wider society, further proof of the broader economic case for the model. During the second world war however, the British government was not as churlish about the free market and did intervene with the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign that oversaw the creation of allotments nationwide, eventually providing over 50% of the nation’s vegetable needs. The success of this scheme though invites a troubling counterargument to the urban farming proposals though; why shouldn’t we just return to the established use of allotments? This argument is a relevant one, as allotments have a positive contribution to make. The issue though is that they are too feudal and subdivided to provide a solution to the issue, they are labour intensive and minimise the opportunity for mechanisation and larger scale rpoduction where crops are grown in monocultures and with crop rotation to achieve desirable and profitable patterns of growth and yields. In this respect the piecemeal operation of allotments is not suited to delivering the quantities of food needed and the counterargument falls apart when economic considerations are thrown at it. Hope instead lies in coordinated efforts at a larger scale. A brief look at Cuba again provides another interesting casestudy as well, where the collapse of sugar export earnings when the USSR fell in 1991 forced the government to subsidise both urban and ‘peri-urban’ agriculture. This reaction to a crisis has now become a major source of economy and employment for Cuba, by 2000 in Havana alone there were over 22,000 people employed by the sector cultivating 8,778 hectares of farms. The city is now even self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. A seemingly tried and tested method, organic farming provides an economically-sound practice for application in the suburbs, being able to compete with conventional farming once oil prices increase, closer proximity to consumers enabling a more profitable mirroring of market trends, reductions in municipal overheads for wider economic benefits and studies that have proven the advantages of organic urban farming over the allotment model.
Investing the case for suburban faming though, is not just about judging its ideological basis, it also has to examine the wider consequences and effectiveness of the model in practical and economic terms. Firstly, on the issue of yields, the outputs are higher for conventional farming than the organic techniques. This is admittedly troubling for the suburban farming model as it highlights that attempts to compete with dedicated agriculture will be unsuccessful. However, when considering the price paid per unit output and the embodied energy costs of conventional compared with organic farming, the latter has no similar overheads that are likely to spiral as oil production dwindles. Setting up organic suburban farms would therefore just be capitalising on and adapting to meet current trends, providing a better model in the long-term. Close proximity to suburban demand and the onsite sale of products would also help ensure that organic overheads, embodied energy and food-miles could be further reduced. This form of agriculture would also have the added advantage of being able to respond more promptly and accurately to changes in tastes and demand, meaning more profits for the trusts that run the operation and greater dividends for the households participating. The Bournville Village Trust provides the best example of just how to administer this model. Setup by George Cadbury at the turn of the 20th century the trust was founded to administer his new garden village in Birmingham, it was organised by an elected board who hired employees, but whose profits were capped with the remainder ploughed into dividends for shareholders and improvements of the jurisdiction. The trust still manages the estate today, tending to a thousand acres of much sought-after real estate that houses over 25,000 people. This provides an appropriate precedent for the management of the productive suburb, and this is incorporated in the capital venture model illustrated on the previous page. The key to the success of the suburban scheme will be the recognition of this flow of trade, goods and cash. As householders would become immediate stakeholders and net benefactors rather than net losers in a commercial venture that is ran by the body-politic of the neighbourhood, establishing a system that ensures both benefit and longevity.
Proposed Capital Venture Model for the Suburban Farm
DISCUSSION The proposals outlined favour introducing new ‘productive suburban landscapes’ as the elected means and media for mitigating the wider issues facing our society. These theoretical proposals however need to be evaluated against the inherent problems suburbia has with consumerism, inelastic design and individualism. These problems feature prominently in contemporary literatire, and an appraisal of these should help to assess whether the proposals have the capacity to reinvigorate the suburban condition or if its potential is undermined by suburbia’s car-dependent, consumerist inception and design. As mentioned earlier in this paper, Richard Sennett in particular highlights to us in his books The Uses of Disorder and The Fall of Public Man that the society suburbia moulded for itself in the early twentieth century was too exclusive, with a rigid and intense family structure, spawning inhabitants who would eventually rely on representation rather than reality to find meaning in their lives. Despite their promise, the suburbs created an inelastic and hollow world of artifice, dedicated to recreating a contrived ‘familiar feudal order’ inviolate from the modern city. On face value at least, suburbia’s opportunity for adaptation looks somewhat bleak. However as far as precedents go though suburbia’s roots in Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City offers at least a glimmer of hope. His proposals were published before a majority lived in suburbia and came to influence its largest period of development, and although the process never materialised in the way planned, it did at the very least aim to inspire a nation to take to selfsufficiency. Indeed other early modernists like LeCorbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright had also written extensively on the principles of self-sufficiency and urban farming, considering them imperative to the city’s future. In Le Corbusier’s book ’The City of Tomorrow’ he analyses a typical suburban plot of 400m² and proposes reallocating 150m² of this communally, with a gardener in charge of every hundred such plots and intensive farming employed with the aim of creating ‘orchards between the houses and cultivated land’. Frank Lloyd Wright also recognised this need in his ‘Living City’, arguing that architecture and acreage should be united as worked best in times of antiquity. Arguably though Wright’s greatest gift to contemporary architecture was lost, and a renewed understanding of this holistic concept liberates us from the segregated understanding of urban and suburban, helping to articulate an alternative vision of the city. This constitutes an unexplored scale, one with endless relevance to the issues facing us this century and making a strong historical case for the introduction of suburban farming as an extension of modern suburbia’s original, more animated design. In counter argument though, just how practical is this untested introduction of farming into an environment designed for exclusive residential use? Student projects exploring urban agriculture are fairly commonplace, inserting
roof gardens and vertical farms into cities, but there are reasons that these designs haven’t been executed. Could it be that the whole vision is just an impractical, expensive folly. This case is fairly convincing, and in truth there have been very little projects that moved beyond the design stage. Arguably though, this is only due to their lack of grounding, as the projects always seek to explore technologically challenging scales and neglect the fundamentals of being grounded in local conditions and soils, like the ‘productive kitchen and communal gardens’ that the early modernists’ designs had intended. The cultivation of agriculture and biodiversity in the suburbs could generate a new perspective on seasonal change and multi-sensory stimulation in the seasonal variations offered by an organic landscape, breathing new life into ‘the shared sense of time and present’ that is so important in generating a sense of belonging, rather than the unchanging visual abstraction of the suburb. As outlined in the Canterbury Tales, a tactile, not scenic life is what society drew the most satisfaction from before attitudes of the modern city twisted our perceptions. In Chaucer’s tale the pilgrims’ obsession is not with the picturesque landscapes, but with intimate bodily experiences instead; “kneling upon the soft and swete gras”. Whether at work or sleeping, close proximity and tactility was the norm for social life, and the rescaling of suburbia’s design at this close, multi-sensory level will be critical if humanity is to re-engage with the city by interacting with it, rather than continue experiencing it at an abstract distance. The final counterargument to this is that attempts to impose green ideology will enforce new rules and regulations, actually engendering a more authoritarian and emaciating place than the present suburb. This argument has some relevance, as an expropriation of suburban land for the purposes of farming would involve the creation of administrative bodies which restrict certain practices, but it doesn’t consider the green city in its wider, social sense. The criticism is still steeped in individualist attitudes, ignoring the fulfilment of democratic space that is provided by an appropriate setting for the accidental meeting of people outside the home. Where in reality creativity, democracy and society all thrive on the accidental, the unexpected and the continuous enlargement of possibilities they would make practical. The potential for urban agriculture to change our understanding of the suburbs and prevent the obsolescence of suburbia thus seems intractable. Its introduction would be unprecedented and initially restrictive, but would it would also just be correcting the course of the suburbs as they have veered from the vision of their early modern designers. These adapted and newlyproductive areas will then reintroduce ‘shifting aesthetics’, the mingling of uses and social functions into suburbs to produce new ones and thus challenging the sterility of the suburbia of old.
AGRONOMICS This section aims to finalise the economic questions surrounding suburban agriculture by modelling labour demand, the impact on it by differing scales of production and levels of mechanisation, as well as profiling the workers themselves. The research in particular will delve into how fixing labour demand hopes to clarify the economic case for pursuing the production of certain cash crops over others. This will inform the architectural implications for the proposals by fixing the number of workers, the types of accomodation and other associated functions required as a consequence.
CASH CROPS Five crops were selected for modelling based on their suitability, and this was modelled against the following five criteria:
1.Feasible to grow in monocultures of between one and three hectares 2. Suited to the neutral-to-alkaline pH of the Edgbaston soil 3. Decent market returns measured by retail prices/kg against yields. 4. Provides a spread of growing and harvesting seasons around the year to ensure consistent cashflow and help mitigate seasonal surges in work demand. 5. Meets the mixed demands of the nitrogen cycle in crop rotation. The five suggested cash crops that met all five demands were apples, asparagus, snap peas, christmas trees and honey for the fallow periods. The yield of each crop per acre was researched and this was multiplied by the typical planting per acre and then multiplied by the market value per kilogramme over a yearâ€™s season to provide a sales figure. The total modelled costs of labour, seeds, pesticides and fuel were subtracted from this (which are modelled more precisely on the next page) to render a net profit figure for each cash crop. Some crops were obviously more lucrative than others, such as asparagus with its attractive market value/kg despite it being a more labour intensive crop. All the crops proved to be economically viable if grown on site, yielding decent profits, including even honey production which would be taking advantage of an otherwise unproductive period in the crop rotation cycle (the fallow stage).
FIXED COSTS Overheads for each crop were researched for completeness and thoroughness of the economic testing and each cropâ€™s seed costs, pesticide costs and fuel consumption were calculated and modelled to provide a more accurate method of judging the economic validity of each cash crop. These were fed into the profit and loss calculations on the previous page.
MECHANISATION Machinery has a significant impact on the yields, fuel consumption and of course labour demand for any cash crop and so three scenarios were investigated to better understand the exact numerical impact mechanisation has on real-term labour demand. This process involved estimating conventional labour demand using established trade and industry equations from agricultural research papers with set values for task hours and season lengths per crop. The dataset for each of the variables listed in the academic literature enabled a regression to be modelled which could plot the relationship between the variables and provided a â€˜fixing pointâ€™ for exploring how the labour was affected by increasing and decreasing the technology hours. The results highlighted how the doubling of mechanised input equated to a decrease in worker demand by 22%, and the removal of machinery from the production process spurned a labour demand increase of 140%. These three generic scenarios of normal, zero and maximum mechanisation thus provided an approximate numerical yardstick for examining how the required labour demand across the 19.5 acre neighbourhood wide scheme would be affected, and fixing more precisely what number of workers would be needed depending on the elected production method.
CALCULATING LABOUR DEMAND WIth the three rules for adjusting labour demand according to technology level established, the base calculations for labour demand were made and conventional labour costs could also be calculated to weigh against the sales returns of each cash crop. Interestingly the derived labour costs varied little between crops, with the exception of Christmas Trees owing to their single growing season and minimal labour demand in terms of task hours. The three scenarios could finally be calculated as well, and the conventional average of 18 workers was adjusted to 12 in the maximum technology model and inflated to 23 in the zero mechanised scenario. The need for housing then varies from 12 to 23 throughout the year depending on which crop is the focus and whether it demands a maxima or minima of mechanised input. For the first time this very clearly establishes a figure for how many beds, rooms and houses will be necessary, and how they might fluctuate throughout an agricultural year, providing highly valuable design input to influence the layout decisions and proposals for the scheme.
WORKER PROFILE Finally, the all-important profiling of the agricultural labour was a necessary study to understand what the workforce would typically compromise. A range of academic papers provided reliable datasets for this study and highlighted some noteworthy trends that are likely to inform the design of the architectural interventions. The largest single category of workers is those without spouses or families, who constitute 82% of the workforce, meaning most seasonal workers can be housed in dorms, but a provision of 18% must be made for those who come accompanied by families. Seventy two and a half percent of agricultural workers are resident in the UK for less than six months at a time, highlighting a significant turnover of staff in the agricultural sector. The workforce was also skewed in favour of 18-34 year olds, who contribute 70% to the UKâ€™s seasonal workforce in the agricultural sector, highlighting again the suitability for dormitory accomodation, especially when considering that 60% of the workforce is also male. Communal agricultural accomodation typically features the expected gender-segregated dormitories with bunk beds, large communal kitchens as well as dedicated storage and changing areas for work overalls. These workers are also starting to make demands of the agencies who recruit them and the reaction to these demands is becoming increasingly visible in agricultural accomodation. Social and on-site leisure provision is increasingly included in the employment packages they apply for, even though these spaces are often of poor quality design for the functions they provide, the need is clear and should feature in the proposals.
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN In this section the economic, expropriation, environmental and historical considerations covered in the previous chapters are factored into the design process to provide a structured and holistic set of design guidelines to deliver a more grounded, well-considered and tasteful architectural proposal for the reintroduction of agriculture into the suburbs.
THE MEWS AS A LIVING ARRANGEMENT The mews house provides a suitable architectural precedent to examine for the agricultural workers accomodation due to their linear arrangement and functional space-saving design. Mews houses are a typical architectural inheritance of the Georgian era when carriages were the main form of transport and each townhouse needed its own housing for the vehicles. They are commonplace in a number of cities across the British Isles, but nowhere more so than London where the Mews have now almost all been converted into popular residential dwellings, sparking even the design of newbuild Mews such as those found in Temple Bar, Dublin. The intimacy of the street, the efficient and functional use of space both internally and externally all conspire to create a type of residential commodation that mirrors a lot of the requirements of inhabiting the narrow threshold space to the perimeter of each expropriated field. They seem to afford a lot of promise for delivering more streamlined and efficient residential layouts, while ensuring the intervention retains a sense of character.
TYPICAL LAYOUTS The typical London Mews house accomodates between one and three bedrooms with a single bathroom and through living arrangement to the ground floor. Shallow plans make for relatively well-lit dwellings without daylighting issues and can thus minimise energy demands from lighting and heating by maximising on solar gains. A mews house is typically less than 80 square metres, and so has to make efficient use of the space it has available, introducing thoughtful architectural features that really help to minimise clutter and the waste of space. Drawers are cleverly concealed in stairs, television cabinets in walls and sliding doors help reduce the space lost to door swings, all of these measures in part help contribute to exaggerating the actual internal size of the space. The houses range in width and size as well as tenants, accomodating families, groups, couples and singles. This in particular highlights their versaility in design that should be employed in the accomodation design of the â€˜agricultural wall conditionâ€™ at the threshold of the new suburban fields.
AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY STUDY TRACTION VEHICLE INVENTORY
AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY STUDY LOADED SPREADER INVENTORY
COMPOST WATER HEATING The use of green agricultural waste for composting is a fairly well established practice in most farms, providing a free source of fertiliser for the next seasonâ€™s crops. The process of composting however also releases a lot of heat, in a typical garden compost it can quickly reach temperatures of up to 40 degrees, should this heat be put to better use in a small district heating scheme, the energy demands of the agricultural accomodation and potentially the neighbouring suburban houses could be drastically reduced. With the waste from the fields typically matching the yields, composting on a large scale provides even better results, reaching tempearatures of over 60 degreees and could provide a significant quantity of hot water for both heating and use in the dwellings. Research into compost water heating is fairly comprehensive, just never been attempted on a large scale involving more than one dwelling. Researcher Jean Pain trialled a number of techniques for this in the 1980s, proving it was feasible to heat water for central heating purposes to provide for his own home by submerging rubber tubing at specific centres on layers inside a compost heap. If this technique could be applied in a more static way to the inside chamber of a large scale compost container then the compost bin can be constantly filled up from the top and emptied from the base, ensuring a continuous supply of material to the compost, minmal interruption to the important fertliser production process as well as a constant supply of heated water.
Vegetable oil prodyction
Sketch layout for the medley of functions the agricultural wall will house
SHELTERING STRUCTURE The rear edge condition was concieved as a sheltering wall that wouldhouse the seasonal accomodation, weathertight storage structures and temporary storage areas. The initial idea was for the various functional buildings to be assembled from a kit of parts as and when was required to meet on-site demand for storage or accomodation, as this would provide maximum flexibility for future expansion or fluctuations in certain crops and products popularity. This threshold condition was originally modelled at grade with the suburban houses behind, but this soon became an obvious problem as it created both overlooking and overshadowing issues for the houses who would already be inconvenienced by the expropriation of their land and then the construction on it. The massing instead needs to be reduced in order to be subtle to achieve less impacting on the family use and enjoyment of their external recreational space. To impinge on this would be negating those efforts expended earlier on making sure the rear gardens provided adequate recreational and leisure provision for families by then overshadowing the whole space. The sheltering wall could be made from earth sourced on site, with a rammed earth construction providing a suitably raw material to keep with the farm aesthetic as well as minimising the use of carbon-intensive imported materials. This use of local material in a rammed earth structure would also provide a useful framework for organising the flows of water, services and waste against or within, and can provide a suitable depth of thermal mass to improve heat retention of the structure and drive down the energy demands of heating the proposals.
Screen Tree Planting across multiple fields
Perimeter Tree Screen
Dry Stone Wall Sheltering Tomato Crops
A steel mesh agricultural screen system
WHY A WALL? The question of why a sheltering structure needs to be provided to the edge of the site finds its answer in the historical use of screening in agriculture. Tall tree planting, dry stone walls and steel mesh windbreaks all serve to minimise the disruptive effects of the wind and weather on the valuable cash crops. This is a well-established farming tradition as crops always yield more productively when adequately sheltered in the lee of the wind rather than exposed to it, like the Edgbaston site would be situated as it is on the top of a hill. These precedents all highlight the importance that the need for protection from the elements exists even in agriculture and also invites other observations on why such heavy duty screening is used in farming. Alongside the usual wind protection, the screening presumably also helps prevent the spread of fertilisers and pesticides beyond their intended location as well as stalling the potential for cross germination of crops species.
Inhabiting and animating the edge condition
INHABITING AND ACTIVATING The inhabitation of this wall condition should be the most immediate and defining feature of the intervention, not the wall itself and in order to achieve this the uses, spread of functions and activities should also embrace the less obvious vertical as well as the horizontal plane. Animating the wall vertically aims to introduce a more more varied use of the roofscape for practical reasons such as additional storage and crop rotation planning, but also to make up for the lack of external garden space to the workers’ accomodation by providing roof terraces for recreation and small scale kitchen gardening. This activation of the vertical also enables the more efficient use of the available volume, in keeping with the design principles established by the mews house precedents. This design feature can also help with maximising access to daylighting too by introducing the opportunities for rooftop fenestration and glazing components to better light the internal condition of the houses which though shallow in plan, were only lit from one side by virtue of their abutment against the private world of suburbia and the associated issues of overlooking with installing glazing on that side. The occupation of the interstitial space between the fields and houses for orchards and vegetable patches will also help to demarcate and soften the edge condition by allowing more individual tailoring of the space according to residents’ preferences. This move is one that takes precedence in LeCorbusier’s City of Tomorrow with echoes of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Living City, where both alluded to the hopeful blending of agricultural and residential functions in a new suburbia where supply and demand co-existed in a more symbiotic relationship and with ‘orchards between the houses’.
Single Storey Massing 7am
Single Storey Massing 12pm
Single Storey Massing 5pm
Double Storey Massing 7am
Double Storey Massing 12pm
Double Storey Massing 5pm
Varied Storey Massing 7am
Varied Storey Massing 12pm
Varied Storey Massing 5pm
DEVELOPING THE MASSING A shadow and massing study was carried out to investigate the overshadowing issues of a variety of different options for the scheme. The model was tested on a heliodon to ensure accurate sun path and shadow modelling for 7am, midday and 5pm during Summer when the gardens were likely to experience their most frequent use. Three massing options were tested; a single storey intervention, a double storey and a varied or broken storey option. All three were laid on the ground at grade with the suburban houses and the shadows they cast are an accurate depiction of the overshadowing they would inflict on neighbouring gardens and properties. The single storey intervention is of course the most minimal of the three, covering less than 50% of the gardens in shadow even late in the evening, but also poses issues with the storage of certain machinery and grain silage due to the height restrictions. The double storey intervention completely overshadows some of the gardens for almost half the daylight hours and therefore also does not represent a suitable massing for an intervention in the suburbs. The varied storey structure provides the most pleasing medium between of the three, able to accomodate the taller machinery and grain stores but only in set locations along the wallâ€™s length, and does help to minimise the overall impact of the overshadowing on neighbouring gardens. The third, varied storey option represents the preferred model, but this study needed extending to explore whether the scheme could also be practically lowered to an excavated level in order to further minimise overhadowing.
Single Storey Massing 7am
Single Storey Massing 12pm
Single Storey Massing 5pm
Double Storey Massing 7am
Double Storey Massing 12pm
Double Storey Massing 5pm
Varied Storey Massing 7am
Varied Storey Massing 12pm
Varied Storey Massing 5pm
LOWERING AND EXCAVATING The study was then extended to explore the option for lowering the agricultural intervention by one storey of two to three metres below ground level. The single storey intervention is of course again the most minimal of the three, in this study covering neglible gardens in shadow, but still poses the problem of the storage of certain machinery and grain silage due to the height restrictions. There is also the added problem that the intervention disappears below the suburban gardens behind and forfeits its architectural potential as a threshold. The double storey intervention was much improved by its lowering down to an excavated level, but unfortunately still overshadows some of the gardens for almost half the daylight hours and doesnâ€™t provide the optimum level of spatial provision to minimal overshadowing in the same way as the varied height massing option. The varied storey structure presented the ideal medium though, nestled down to a lower level its overshadowing was favourably minimal and the wall could still house all of the ncessary (taller) functions for it to deliver its purpose as an agricultural intervention. The third, varied storey option was thus chosen as the design preference for the scheme and informed the basis for lowering the scheme down by three metres to reduce its overshadowing impact on the neighbouring suburban gardens and properties.
Percent built volume Storage
PROGRAMME The architectural programme is arranged in a simple linear fashion with circulation to the front and daylighting via windows to the front and lightwells to the rear of the structure. The programme is also subdivided into five categories of functions, ranging from occasional storage to annual inhabitation. The largest category by far is the storage provision, in keeping with the findings of the research and accounts for the majority of the built volume in order to house all the necessary crop yields, machinery and equipment which tend to be spatially demanding. This is followed by the processing catgeory which includes the production secondary products from the the crop yields into vegetable oil and cider . After this the third largest category is the composting facility for the agricultural waste with the built-in water heating systems. Dwelling accomodation ranges from seasonal to family and year-round and comes in matching third in terms of built volume, leaving the terapreta composting of household waste and water heating as the smallest function housed in the scheme.
Single block axonometric sketch illustrating early thoughts on how to inhabit a sheltering wall
Detail Section AA
Detail Section BB
Long Section CC
AN AGRICULTURAL EDIFICE The proposal is characterised by a rammed earth sheltering wall which runs along the perimeter of the expropriated field. This wall has been lowered by a single storey to an excavated level in order to be respectful to its context, thus minimising overshadowing and overlooking issues onto the suburban gardens behind. The base half of this rear wall is smooth face concrete however, as rammed earth is not appropriate to provide the function of a retaining wall and to perform the task of holding back the soil in the gardens behind. Rammed earth needs adequate ventilation and is not structurally suited to deal with lateral loading. This wall structure is inhabited by functional, timber-clad storehouses, garages and dwellings which embrace their raw, industrial aesthetic and fitness for purpose. These structures deliberately inhabit both the vertical and horizontal in order to maximise on available floorspace and access to daylight given their excavated location and lack of garden amenity, and consequently the roofs are inhabited by recreational terraces, storage areas and observation posts for planning and managing the quarterly rotation of crops. This in particular makes for an activated elevation as stair access between the levels is available to facilitate efficient and flexible use of the space on a daily basis. Protruding from this arrangement there are also grain silos, ventilation stacks, and roofing canopies as well as rolling shutter garage doors below which are all clad in a rich copper. This vibrant material choice is deliberate, making use of a more local and nationally sourced material compared with imported steel, but also ensures the longer life and reduced maintainence demands of the structure due to the longevity and corrosion resistance of copper compared with steel in the weathering process. The whole ensemble sits stepped down and demarcated from the agricultural processes by a grassed slope populated by apple trees and smaller temporary vegetable gardens. This adds a softer distinction between the structure and the productive landscape, while also providing opportunities for the individual tailoring of the land to suit the needs of the occupants, for the growing of vegetables or a space for childrenâ€™s play equipment.
ACCESS AND USE The arable plot is accessed from the South East corner by a hard landscaping strip that provides the main vehicle and pedestrian access to the site and the circulation between the storage facilities and the suburban road network. This landscape treatment extends down to the entrypoints of each dwelling and storehouse, with wide ramps provided to facilitate the movement of larger farm machinery. This ground treatment also serves to separate the field condition from the orchards and agriculturally inhabited wall, helping to mark out the structured layout of the farm. The chosen â€˜wall-arrangement of the intervention emerged from the need to achieve a functional farming arrangement, one where a block of arable land would sit to the centre of the urban block rather than fragmenting the field into smaller, less productive arable units and so the arrangement succeeds in this respect. But also because this arrangement enables the poential of mechanised farming across the breadth of the expropriated land with space for the larger turning circles of the machines, and also because icreates the fewest overshadowing issues of all the possible layouts for the farming functions.
Axonometric of expropriated scheme set within a typical suburban block
Orchards & Communal gardens
Detailed Inhabiton plans for the repeatable 10 unit block of the agricultural wall
The flow of waste from houses and dwellings to the terapreta compost
Heating of water for showers and sinks through terapreta composting
Underfloor heating through crop composting
Exploded Axonometric of shared servicing strategy
NUTRIENT AND ENERGY CYCLES The potential for integrating the sustainable energy available from the agricultural production offered an interesting way of linking the nonproductive suburban housing and condition into the agricultural process. As the diagrams below and axonometric to the left illustrate, if the flow of waste from the houses could be harnessed in a Terapreta recycling system then the composting of this waste can provide communal heating for the hot water of the workerâ€™s dwellings and suburban houses themselves. This process is also mirrored in reverse, where the waste from the fields can be harnessed in huge composting containers to heat water for underfloor heating of the agricultural dwellings and suburban houses. There is even the opportunity for rainwater harvesting to provide enough greywater to flush the toilets. All of these processes when integrated in this way can then make something useful out of the unwanted waste, and reduce the energy demand of the typical suburban homes in a dramatic way.
Nutrient Cycles Diagram
First Floor Plan
Ground Floor Plans
DWELLING LAYOUTS The provision of three types of accomodation is made for within the proposals and the numbers of each type can be varied according to the demand on site. The three types comprise a four-bed year round ‘annual mews’ for general accomodation, a four bed ‘family mews’ for the 15% of workers who come with families and an eight (bunk) bed ‘seasonal mews’ to house the accomodation surge in spring and summer with the arrival of short-term contract seasonal workers. The dwellings have been restricted to a depth of no more than five metres to ensure adequate light penetration and where possible additional lightwells are provided internal or external to the dwellings to really maximise on available light. All the dwellings have been designed to provide the basics for comfortable living along with the suggested recreational and social spaces highlighted in the typology research, and the all-important sanitary threshold facilities including showers and changing for each house.
First Floor N
Solar Insolation Daily Average December
Solar Insolation Daily Average June
Daylighting Factor Average Annual
ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING OF ANNUAL MEWS The comparison of daylighting and solar radiation analyses can be used here to evaluate the effectiveness of the design proposals in comparison with those found on existing farms. With an average daylight factor of 3.5 across 79% of the first floor and 63% of the ground floor the annual mews provides a decent level for comfortable inhabitation, and really highlights how the dual sided access to light has worked to really improve the natural lighting levels of the internal environment. Solar insolation analysis supports this indicating that the solar penetration into the purposely shallow plan has been relatively successful, reaching quite deeply into the building in both summer and winter, providing a better standard of daylighting than was found in the Hare Farm casetudy.
First Floor N
Solar Insolation Daily Average December
Solar Insolation Daily Average June
Daylighting Factor Average Annual
ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING OF FAMILY MEWS The comparison of daylighting and solar radiation analyses is again being used here to evaluate the effectiveness of the design proposals in comparison with those found on existing farms. With an average daylight factor of 3.8 across 87% of the first floor and 59% of the ground floor the family mews generally meets the habitable requirements for a home, and the two underlit rooms on the ground floor are bathrooms and have no daylighting demands by law. In comparison with the annual and seasonal model the large first floor plate glass window really helps maximise on daylighting, and in conjugation with the mezzanine lightwell is used to light the lower floor too. However, the greater difference in dalylighting between the floors might highlight how the rear external wells featuring on the other two houses might be a more practical design measure. Solar insolation analysis reinforces the conlusions drawn as well, indicating that the solar penetration into the purposely shallow plan has been relatively successful in both summer and winter. Although again less successful than the rear-lit model, it still provides an improvement on the standard of daylighting found in the Hare Farm casetudy.
Solar Insolation Daily Average December
Solar Insolation Daily Average June
Daylighting Factor Average Annual
ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING OF SEASONAL MEWS In the seasonal mews, with an average daylight factor of 3.3 across 71% of the first floor and 60% of the ground floor this model provides a decent level for comfortable inhabitation, and despite being less effectively lit than the annual mews due to the addition of a larger changing area to teh front of the house for the increased inhabitation of this accomodation type. The results still highlights how the dual sided access to light in this houses has worked to really improve the natural daylighting levels of the internal space. Solar insolation analysis supports this indicating that the solar penetration into the shallow plan has been relatively successful, reaching quite deeply into the building despite the additional walls in both summer and winter and once again providing a better standard of daylighting than was found in the Hare farm accomodation.
CONCLUSIONS Raw and industrial. Functional and flexible. Habitable and sanitary. Challenging and contemporary. Respectful and realistic. These were the five key phrases that this body of research seems to highlight and hint towards in the creation of something that could confront and challenge the suburban condition without overshadowing it, as well as providing a functional, sustainable and economically viable model for the difficult task of introducing agricultural production to the otherwise non-productive sububan landscape. The proposals set out to be deliberately bold and innovative, but without being overstated or inflammatory in the suburban context and still true to embracing the character of the agricultural farm in form, arrangement and materiality. The strong body of research that went into informing its design has helped to prove the feasabillity of suburban farming as an urban phenomenom. The model was tested against a wide range of criteria and has held its own thus far, proving itself to be economically practical, historically relevant, respectful of its typology, structurally achievable, comfortably habitable, architecturally rewarding and biologically possible given the ground conditions. There is of course still much further to take the phenomenom of Suburban farming though, as the design process still has a long journey ahead of it to define and develop what constitues the architectural language of farming in suburbia. There is also much further architectural testing and modelling to be performed in order to establish and refine the construction, tectonics, inhabitation and experience of the agricultural wall condition, as insofar as only the basics have really been established. The ambition for the project from this point onwards is to further develop the design through rigorous environmental and practical testing of the proposals as well as starting to examine them against local, legal, topical and planning requirements in order to develop the framework, relevance and practicality of the design thesis. On a final note however, it is important to remember not to lose sight of the original vision, and to recognise that the aim is to be able to prove that the model is not just practical for the widespread application across a suburb, city or nation, but also desirable, seductive and captivating as an architectural proposition. This in particular is imperative if the approach and phenomenom are to be appreciated by inhabitants, suburbanites and citizens alike in order to begin to deal with the wider questions of food security and resource consumption in the troubled waters of this overpopulated century.
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VILJOEN, A. (2005) CPULS: CONTINUOUS PRODUCTIVE URBAN LANDSCAPES (OXFORD: ARCHITECTURAL PRESS)
WEBSITES BOURNEVILLE VILLAGE TRUST, OUR STORY (WEB: BVT, 22 DEC 11) <HTTPS://WWW.BVT.ORG.UK/> NEARTY,C. URBAN JUNGLE. (WEB: GUARDIAN, 18 DEC 11) HTTP://WWW.GUARDIAN.CO.UK/ENVIRONMENT/2008/MAR/26/CITYFOOD
DOCUMENTARIES DIR. GREENE. G, (2004). THE END OF SUBURBIA: OIL DEPLETION AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM. DVD. THE ELECTRIC WALLPAPER CO. DIR. EDWARDS. D, (2008). SPRAWLING FROM GRACE, DRIVEN TO MADNESS: THE CONSEQUENCES OF SUBURBANIZATION. DVD. E.MOTIONS PICTURE PRODUCTIONS. DIR. KENNER.R, (2008). FOOD INC. DVD. MAGNOLIA PICTURES
IMAGES ED. OLTERMANN. P, BRITISH ARCHITECTURE: PART ONE 476AD - 1700. THE GUARDIAN & OBSERVER GUIDE. (SEPT 2011). ED. OLTERMANN. P, BRITISH ARCHITECTURE: PART TWO 1720 - PRESENT. THE GUARDIAN & OBSERVER GUIDE. (SEPT 2011). ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY AUTHOR UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS UNIVERSITY FARM, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE JEFF JONES ALAN ROBERTS RICHARD HEAD MACIEJ JANKOWIAK HARE FARM, CAMBRIDGESHIRE JAMES HARE FRED PERRY SUPERVISORS INGRID SHRODER JORIS FACH GUEST CRITICS KOEN STEEMERS ALFRED JACOBY ARRIE GRAAFLAND SPENCER DE GREY NICK RAY
Expropriating land and re-addressing the suburban condition for the purposes of food security in an age of oil depletion.
Published on May 7, 2012
Expropriating land and re-addressing the suburban condition for the purposes of food security in an age of oil depletion.