New Food Solutions in Sunshine and the Docklands: Workshop

On October 3rd 2007 the VEIL community (designers and experts) held a small intensive design workshop to explore the 2032: New Food Solutions.

For the last several months the VEIL Spring 2007 Hub, a small team of design academics has been investigating distributed food systems for urban Melbourne. The Hub investigations have been exploring where might we start growing food in an urban environment, who might participate in food production and then developing new models and visions of a more localised food production and consumption system. The workshop on the 3rd specifically looked at two themes; How food might grow in an extreme city environment such as Docklands, and How schools might prompt a more dynamic and localised food system in the Sunshine area.

Participants included; Mick Pearce, David Mayes, Kirsty Fletcher (Rexroth Mannasmann Collective), John Sadar (Architecture, University of Melbourne), Simon Drisler (Architecture, University of Melbourne), Malte Wagenfeld (Industrial Design, RMIT) Steven Mushin (Industrial Design, RMIT, CERES, freelance designer) Graham Crist (Architecture, RMIT), Melanie Dodd (Architecture, RMIT), Craig Douglas (Landscape Architecture, RMIT), Kate Pears (Industrial Design, RMIT), Michael Trudgeon (Crowd Productions), Mark Richardson (Industrial Design, Monash University) , Bonnie So (Industrial Design, RMIT), Kathleen Turner (Architecture, University of Melbourne), Fiona Barker-Reid and VEIL staff members Prof Chris Ryan, Dianne Moy, Ferne Edwards and Kirsten Larsen.

The intensive is a pre-cursor event for a workshop in November with special guest, sustainable design and social innovation expert Francois Jegou and was informed by a briefing document developed by the Hub, here is an excerpt:

Government and local council saw potentials in revitalising the economy and building resilience (environmental, economic and social) by supporting local food systems. Following the successful example of domestic water tanks, used to take pressure off the public potable water supply, government, councils, and households found new local food solutions in the form of urban agriculture. Food production has moved into the urban fabric, with a more localised and distributed system for production and consumption. Different types of foods are grown in different parts of Melbourne. Localised trading and brokering takes place to support local consumption and production and ensure that households have access to diverse food types. Almost 30% of food consumed by households is produced within the Melbourne urban boundary (this percentage is much higher if peri-urban agriculture taken into account).

Today as we look around it is easy to take granted the value that urban agriculture has added to our aesthetic surroundings. It is easy to forget the extraordinary amount of innovation that has emerged from urban agriculture, and in particular the role the design industry played in this. Victorian designers saw that urban agriculture and the new localised food solutions were rich in design opportunities. Today the systems, products, services and structures that support urban agriculture have been enhanced through design.

Solutions ideas included Mick Pearce developing an innovative use for freight ships, the tankers becoming water storage and with potential growing / renewable space on top and some particularly innovative thinking on tidal power. Another group investigated the idea of incorporated residential and agriculture towers, bringing the village farm to a vertical village and a series of oversize planter boxes that rotated with the sun providing shade to the building. Other groups looked at distributed and flexible learning and how active communities might adopt and adapt our present education systems. One group devising a quarter school type system that squatted residential, commercial and community spaces even branching out to the backyards of houses.

Workshop Design & Facilitation

Dianne Moy