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December 08, 2008

City Eco Lab: productive urban gardens



One of the inspiring discoveries we made in putting City Eco Lab together was l’Ilot d’Amaranthes,a five-year-long project in which St Etienne designer Emanuel Louisgrand, in partnership with Galerie Roger Tator, has created productive gardens on abandoned sites in different parts of Lyon.

Given the range of malfunctioning global systems we have to deal with, attempting to design global replacements top-down simply wont work. Instead, we have to "grow" their replacement from small experiments, or seeds, that have the potential to multiply and be scaled up. Solutions will come through intense and diverse experimentation in doing things in a lighter and more sustainable way.

When I speak about experimentation, I don't mean research in a laboratory, or debate in an academy. I mean experiments in the real world with the participation and co-ownership of citizens. Such experiments, when rooted in reality, generate the feedback and rapid learning that's needed in terms of perpetually iterative design.

L’Ilot d’Amaranthes is a perfect model of the kind of activity that we need to see in every city and town. What shines out from the project is that each intervention is unique to that place and that time. This is a sustainable way of thinking: Understanding what makes each place unique, and then defining tools and infrastructures that can be adapted to it.

Roger Tator Gallery have published a new book about l’Ilot d’Amaranthes and the work of Emanuel Louisgrand. I know this because I contributed a short text and have a copy sitting next to me as I write - but I can't quite find it yet on the Roger Tator site. But do hassle them for a copy - it's beautifully done.

Posted by John Thackara at December 8, 2008 07:15 PM


I wanted to tell you about an exhibit we are planning in Toronto about Designing for Urban Agriculture. Here is a short version of our press release:

Carrot City: Designing for Urban Agriculture
Exhibit: February 25th – April 30th 2009 – Free Admission
Opening reception: March 3rd 2009
Design Exchange, Toronto

Exhibition Overview
This exhibition will show how the design of cities and buildings is enabling the production of food in the city. It will explore the role that creative design professionals have in relation to the food system of cities, and the impact that agricultural issues will have on the design of urban spaces and buildings as society addresses the issues of a more sustainable pattern of living. The focus will be on how the increasing interest in growing food within the city, supplying food locally, and food security in general is changing urban design and built form. The exhibition will show projects in Toronto and other Canadian cities, illustrating how they are changing cities and buildings. It will also include relevant international examples to show how ideas from other countries can be integrated into the Canadian experience. The exhibition will contain a mix of realised projects and speculative design proposals that illustrate the potential for future design that focuses on food issues.

The exhibition will explore a number of issues related to the design for urban agriculture, through a series of case studies, and products and systems. These will be works principally in Canada but also including other relevant projects. It will include a balance between selected projects that were recently completed or are currently under way, and visionary speculative ideas projects by professional designers as well as students. In addition to the projects, a range of products will illustrate technologies and systems that are innovating food production approaches in urban contexts. Some of the main themes to be featured include:

•What is the place of food in the city?
•How are “waste” spaces being transformed by food projects?
•What are the implications on materials, technologies and structures?

The content will include posters with images and explanatory text, models, installations, and videos.

Posted by: June D. Komisar at February 3, 2009 03:11 PM

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