Earlier this month, we featured a three part series that explored Urban Agriculture – how its design could change our relationship to food and potentially guide the way we plan and revitalize our cities. In the last article of the series “Towards an Urban Agri-puncture,” I proposed a way that design could make a social impact on cities as well: by creating community-oriented, productive landscapes where cities need them most.
Little did I know that a young Architect was way ahead of me.
Read More about About Dylan Kwok’s ingenious approach to Green Design, after the break…
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.