Register: NOV/20/2018, Submit: NOV/30/2018, Eligibility: Professionals, students; all professions; individually, (multidisciplinary) teams up to 4 members, Fee: Professionals 25 USD, students 15 USD (until AUG/20/2018); professionals 35 USD, students 25 USD (AUG/21 – OCT/05/2018); professionals 60 USD, students 40 USD (OCT/06 – NOV/20/2018); +taxes, Awards: 1st Prize 1,500 USD, 2 Runners-up 750 USD each, People’s Choice (professionals) 500 USD, People’s Choice (students) 500 USD, 10 Honorable Mentions (6 professionals, 4 students)
Food is one of the most fundamental elements of human existence. Looking back, the way we produce, store and consume food has evolved greatly. Humans have thrived because our ancestors learnt how to gather, produce and consume food, all with their bare hands. And mankind has sustained due to these crucial elements of knowledge passed through generations. With industrialization came mass production, and with mass production came an influx of consumers – who started paying instead. Skills and crafts related to agriculture and food production are now mostly obsolete in the urbane environment. Mass consumerism through supermarkets and even online mediums is slowly changing how we perceive, acquire and consume food.
This has raised issues like overconsumption, poor quality, high wastage and an over-dependence on manufacturing agencies. In the long run our perception of fresh foods/fruits will be completely eroded by advertisements and fancy packaging, which can have irreversible impacts on health, and hence, the human evolution cycle.
The time to intervene is now.
As a designer how can you bring farming to the cities where people can see, participate or celebrate cultivation – and understand what they eat, much better? Where not only awareness related to food is available, but as a community we become more responsible for our actions. How can you change the image of cities as the ones that only consume, to ones that contribute too? Or make farming so easy for people using technologies of today that makes it easy for people to grow it in their homes? Urban meal mine, is a place where people can generate/learn/contribute to grow food for their city. This is usually located in the heart of the city where skilled labour + abundant transport + short distance logistics + faster production technologies can break even revenue over the high cost land it occupies.
The design challenge here is to bring farming to the city where people can see, participate, indulge and involve themselves in understanding how the food they eat is actually made. This is not just a plan to make people aware but a place where they can learn to contribute to the food cycle, consume responsibly and create a more sustainable ecosystem for the rampantly growing cities. The space has to be in the core city, which implies being a revenue oriented business and has to leverage proﬁts by inducing modern equipment and machinery at the same time, has to be permeable enough to involve enthusiastic urban population.
The challenge is to design a place where skills and crafts related to food which were once handed down through generations, can be created again. An intervention which lets people learn how to prepare and grow their own meals effortlessly, using technologies of today; learn setting up makeshift food preparation supply systems on an event of disaster; learn plugin farming through workshops which can enable them to cultivate hassle free at their own homes and get packed seeds/manure kits in the designed area. And there can be different mediums to explore farming in an urban context.
The site for this intervention is the New Covent Market (coordinates: 51.477753, -0.135396; site area: 31.6 acres) located in the Nine Elms District, London opposite to historic Battersea power station. The site is close to the river Thames and is a part of Nine Elms regeneration plan. It consists of a 4 decade old market structure which houses a wide variety of wholeseller’s of foods, fruits, vegetables and flowers. The site is surrounded by residential and commercial developments of various scales, and is expected to invite people from around the city. It also has two brand new tube stations proposed in attempt to rejuvenate transport links to the Nine Elms district.