Sustainable Food Cities

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Sustainable Food Cities


Imagine a world without hunger. A world with abundant food for everyone. Fresh, non-toxic food. Where you walk out of your house and smell the freshness of the fruits and herbs growing in your own backyard. Where you know where your food comes from and it’s grown by you with love. Hard to imagine in today’s world, right? But not impossible. Soon enough such cities are going to come up and it’s not going to be just a dream anymore. Like Vancouver and Edinburg, there are already existing cities that are being planned to be made into Food Cities. This world needs more and more such places, where everybody is happy and well fed. We need to maintain this balance for a better healthier community, where neighbours grow their herbs together, where the farmer’s market is a block away from the house and the farm another block. The architects, planners, with the help of their skills can help us build a city where people are centre of the planning and this should involve achievements of long term food goals.

We all need to be involved in it in order to make this imaginative world come to life. There is a way to make it possible even today so that we and our future generations never stay hungry again.


    1. Introduction
    2. Research Question
    3. Aims
    4. Objectives
    5. Scope
    6. Limitations
    7. Research Methodology
  1. FOOD10
    1. Why is it important?
    2. How is Food connected to Architecture/Cities?
    1. Agriculture - The Basis of Civilization
    2. How did we get here?
    3. Globalization (Disconnect between man & nature)
    1. What is Sustainability?
    2. What are Sustainable Food Cities? Why are they required now?

5.1Policy Related Criteria

5.2Space Related Criteria

    1. Existing Sustainable Food City
    2. Future Sustainable Food City
    3. Analysis of Case Studies
    1. Vision: Utopia-Sitopia
    2. What might Sitopia look like?



Figure 2‑1: 17th Century London Grain Markets

Figure 3‑1: Agriculture in Ancient Egypt

Figure 4‑1: Food Miles

Figure 4‑2: Local vs. Global

Figure 4‑3: Organic Food

Figure 5‑1: Local Market

Figure 5‑2: One of the designs from Groundbreaking Food Gardens – Plan/techniques and ideas for a year round veggie garden that offers a bounty of veggies, herbs & fruits

Figure 5‑3: We Have The Space

Figure 5‑4: People working together in a Community Garden in Morinville, Canada

Figure 5‑5: Basic Structure of a Community Garden

Figure 5‑6: Sheldon Crossing Roof Garden

Figure 5‑7: Rooftop Gardening on Ziggurats

Figure 5‑8: Farmers' Market in Portland, ME

Figure 5‑9: Happy People at Farmer's Market

Figure 5‑10: Farm Animals

Figure 6‑1: Vancouver Food System Cycle

Figure 6‑2: Vancouver Food Strategy

Figure 6‑3: Vancouver Action Policies

Figure 6‑4: Vancouver City Farmers Market

Figure 6‑5: Agropolis Munich

Figure 6‑6: Different ways to integrate Agriculture with new residential development projects

Figure 7‑1: The Garden City by Ebenezer Howard

Figure 7‑2: Utopia-Sitopia

Figure 7‑3: What Sitopia might look like

Figure 7‑4: What Sitopia might look like

Figure 7‑5: Sustainable Food City Vision


1.1. Introduction

From time immemorial, the two basic needs of a man’s life have been food and shelter. Food has been one of the most important elements of human life. In other words, we can say human life revolves around food. It is this realization of the importance of food in man’s life that led to the early stages of settling down at a place which eventually led to formation of civilizations.

Discovery of food brought some stability in man’s life and hence settlements started sprawling overtime; where there was enough food for the people to suffice. Whether it was a group of tribe, or hunter-gatherers, or large groups of people living in a community, all of their settlement patterns could be traced down to food. People would grow on the same land they would eat on. This led to self-sustainable settlements regarding food and shelter, i.e. the basic human needs.

With growing needs, upcoming technologies, etc. a lot of changes in the climate and other patterns took place. A shift in food pattern occurred which eventually led to a shift in the settlement pattern. As a result of transportation & invention of preservatives, the definition of growing, buying, storing and selling food changed overnight. As globalisation took over the world, the shift in connection between food & cities became even more evident.

It has become very essential for us to understand this shift and to realise the factors that led to these changes. This can further lead us into understanding the elements derived that can help our communities grow along with the food we eat.

Sustainability and local food production are two high rising issues in our communities these days. The main reason being their known benefits to the society as we’ve been there before the food started getting transported and preservatives came into use. It’s not only going back to the past but also doing so as an attempt to make our future better and more sustainable, especially for our future generations. Building a community with its own Farmer’s market, warehouses, edible landscape can help the community become a better, healthier place to live in. Not just it increases our awareness regarding where our food comes from, but it also helps decrease the load on the environment regarding pollution, food miles and land coverage. It helps us feed more people using less land and the best part is that everything is LOCAL.

1.2. Research Question

Q. What are Sustainable Food Cities and why are they required in today’s world? What are the criteria to create a Sustainable Food City?

1.3. Aim

The aim of the study is to understand the importance of the food we eat with respect to the community we live in. To understand how we, as architects, planners, and people can help make our community better and sustainable in terms of producing, storing, distributing, consuming and disposing food.

1.4. Objectives

  • Understand food & its importance at a community/city level.
  • Understand the close relationship between food and settlements.
  • Understanding how evolution of food led to changes in the growth of a city.
  • Understanding Sustainability and Sustainable Food Cities.
  • Understanding the urgent need for creating Sustainable Food Cities in today’s world.
  • Devising the criteria required to create a Sustainable Food City.

1.5. Scope

  • Expressing how food and spaces are interdependent and how this can help us create better spaces for our food.
  • Architecture here is studied in terms of spatial planning with respect to food related spaces, such as, gardens, markets, etc.
  • The comparison to be focused on at a community level than unitary basis.
  • Scale of the City to be taken at a micro level, community level.

1.6. Limitations

  • Considering the time limitations and resource constraints mainly secondary data is used.
  • Only secondary case studies could be done as no such city exists in India for now.
  • Secondary case studies are accounted for with the help of studies done by other sources keeping the present time scenario in mind.

1.7. Research Methodology

GOAL: To understand the role played by food in our lives and in shaping our cities. To understand how the changing patterns of Food affected our settlements. To understand the interdependency of food and the community as seen today and how can that be used to make our food and communities better. To understand how we, as architects, and as people, can help in making the cities self-sustainable in terms of food. To understand spaces related to production, storage, transportation, consumption and disposal of food.



To read the already written articles, books, essays, etc. that account for the growth of settlements, cities in & around food & agriculture. The earlier study done by various historians, theorists and architects will be taken into account to understand how cities have been dependant on food overtime. It will also focus on how it all started from food & this understanding can help us develop newer healthier communities.

Reading about different Food Related Communities around the globe to get a better understanding of Sustainable Food Cities and understanding the terms and spaces related to the processes involved with food. With the help of the above readings, figuring out the Criteria/Element which are required for creating a Sustainable Food City.


Studying the various methods architects, planners and urban designers are coming up with to make our cities/communities as food cities. Trying to figure how people have been working to establish regional food production as a new dimension in urban development. Understanding the role of Government Bodies and Policy Makers in creating and sustaining such a Food City. Studying existing and proposed Sustainable Food Cities and Sustainable Food Practices and analysing them with the help of the Criteria derived.

Chapter 2: FOOD

2.1.Why is it important?

There is a complex and fundamental relationship between food and architecture. There is a strong need in our society to study this relationship. Both are interdependent on each other. This creates a relationship between food and architecture that needs investigation and development for the benefit of each. In order to understand this better, we need to go back to the roots and understand how it all started – our dependency on food, settlements origin and their growth.

We need to first understand the significance of food in human life. Since the very beginning the primary occupations have been revolving around food in our history. This is bound to happen as the whole process of producing food to getting it to us (consumers) involves numerous steps which require a lot of manpower, for eg., it must be planted, cultivated, treated, transported, stored, bought/ sold, prepared, served, and then finally we get to eat it. Then, after all of this, there is clean up. (Gasperetti, 2013)

2.2.How is Food connected to Architecture/Cities?

Food has had a major influence on our built environment since the beginning of human life. If we look at the map of any city built before the industrial age, we can trace food coming into it. We can actually see how food physically shaped the city with the help of hints like the names of the streets, which give us a lot of clues.

Carolyn Steel in the TED talk, ‘How food shapes our cities’, explains how the organization of cities is directly connected to food access. For example, streets have names in a manner that explains the historic function of that specific street, such as “Bread Street” or “Cornhill” in London in 17th Century. Streets with specific food related purposes were established at those locations because the raw goods that were required to produce that product could most easily enter the city along that street. (Steel, 2009).

Lance Hosey in his journal ‘On Food and Architecture’ also talks about historical relationships between food and architecture. Culture of a place is defined by the developments that happen in different forms due to local circumstances. Hence, both architecture and food form an important part of the culture of a place. Being a part of a particular culture, they evolve together, grow together and change together. This makes the relationship between the two even stronger. This also develops a strong connection between the culture and the place itself. Put simply, culture is the elevation of basic human needs. Architecture is to shelter what cuisine is to food: pleasure takes over from necessity as a simple shed transforms into a glorious cathedral, eggs into a soufflé.” (Hosey, 2003)

Lance also mentioned that historically the basis of formation of a civilization depended on the discovery of a place that one could grow things in the ground of, which we will further understand in the next chapter. This led to development of agriculture which in turn led people to settle down at one place. Hence began the requirement for building permanent shelters.