Common Ground, School for civic agriculture and urban food systems:

by S.M. Otten

Institution: Delft University of Technology
Year: 2014
Keywords: relational architecture; urban agriculture
Record ID: 1260150
Full text PDF: http://resolver.tudelft.nl/uuid:b50e7d01-1c22-4f6a-af00-6d1b43c21d36


Cities are increasingly renewed by large projects rather than by long-term visions and subsequent master planning. Public-private partnerships are organized to engage strategic sites resulting in complex developments. The developments are comprised of multiple and often conflicting interest, which have to be simultaneously negotiated. The traditional tools of architecture and urban planning are simply not equipped to deal with the conditions that arise. This critical condition will be the focus of 'Complex Projects'. Shootings, crime, school dropouts, domestic- and gang violence, drug- and alcohol addiction; The South-side of Chicago today is notorious for its unsafe, empty and neglected neighbourhoods, in big contrast to the glorious days of the steel industry, once a driving force in the area. The withdrawal of the South works Steel Company in the 1970’s left the area only with the foot marks of what once was a vibrant and productive community. The area around the site is in total isolation. In social sense, because of the neighborhoods lack of proper education, healthy food, health care and safety. In physical sense the area lies isolated as well, because of borders created by infrastructure, dividing the area in different social and ethnic classes, and the lack of proper public transportation from and to the South-side. The vacancies and empty plots are a reason the area is scattered and fragmented. This asks for an intervention that can provide it with proper access to jobs, education and health care. By proposing common ground as a concept for development we are aiming to reconnect with reality. Injecting the South work sites with basic needs as schools, industry and agriculture, the neighborhood can profit from education, work, and public functions. A direct interaction on the site between the production and consumption of food, will provide an example for cities in reducing their footprint while empowering the people of Chicago South in part of their basic needs: food as binding factor. Common ground is a framework for sustainable and flexible growth, with the potential for social, economic and and environmental improvement of Chicago South. By designing a fragment of the total master plan I go deeper into the social, environmental and spatial implications of this proposition. By bringing people with different backgrounds together through food, which is something we all need, that binds us, a collective awareness for our current consumption behavior can possible be achieved. Although the building is not a solution for the structural problems in the area, social, economic and environmental isolation, it can be an urban catalyst as a start for better conditions in the neighborhood, providing work, education and social diversity. By exhibiting food production with architectural tools such as contextual, programmatic and spatial relations, light, materiality and spatial configuration food can be experienced, smelled, seen and touched. As this complex on its own will not be an answer for our current food…