Dylan Kwok, born in Hong Kong, raised in Vancouver, educated in Helsinki, and captivated by the potential of Sustainable Design worldwide, didn’t design a soaring vertical farm tower or a high-tech Dragon Fly when it came to his Master’s Thesis. Instead Kwok came up with a brilliant, attainable strategy for action. He called it Urban Agri-puncture: a design approach that targets run-down areas of his adopted hometown, Helsinki, by occupying its Urban courtyards, south-facing walls, and roofs with ”Greenhubs:” public spaces that would simultaneously educate about food and – as small bursts of productive energy - revitalize the city as a whole.
Ingeniously, Kwok, identifying the need to replace the energy-inefficient windows common to old buildings in Helsinki, investigated the potential of re-using these old window panes as the material for his “Greenhubs.”After visiting a recycling center and ascertaining the feasibility, he began designing his “Greenhubs” with the recycled material in mind. The resulting Greenhubs would consist of a greenhouse, composting room, and edible garden, and, being easy to construct, could be inserted throughout the city. In “Designing Out the Distance,” I suggested that: “While architects certainly have the potential to rethink our cities as productive, efficient food landscapes, realistically, we must start small. we can begin to educate city-dwellers about food, bridge the gap between consumer and producer, and make food production/distribution part of the conversation about urban life.” Kwok’s award-winning project represents exactly that: the potential of integrating food into design – not just as a highly conceptual (and frankly far from feasible) vertical farm – but as small, social, and vital urban adaptations.