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DESIGNING FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE: Recent Explorations at Ryerson University

By : June Komisar, Joe Nasr , Mark Gorgolewski

Strategies to enable alternative urban food systems cannot be developed alone by those involved with the production and distribution aspects of food systems. It is important for architects, landscape designers and planners to be part of the process of conceiving and implementing innovative food-system thinking. Environmentally focused building standards and models for sustainable communities can easily incorporate farmers' markets, greenhouses, edible landscapes, permeable paving, green roofs, community gardens, and permaculture and other food-related strategies that complement energy generation and conservation, green roofs, living walls, and other approaches that have been more commonly part of sustainable built-environment initiatives. Recently, architecture faculty and students at Ryerson University in Toronto and at a number of other universities have been exploring the intersection of these disciplines and interests. This paper will show how Ryerson tackled agricultural and food issues as design challenges in projects that included first-year community investigations, student-run design competitions, third-year studio projects and complex final-year thesis projects. These projects that dealt with food issues proved to be excellent entry points for addressing a range of design challenges including social inclusion, cultural context, community design and sustainable building practices.
Keywords : Design Pedagogy, Design Strategies, Productive Landscapes, Urban Agriculture, Urban Food.

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