Before agriculture, there was no urban. Today- the production of food is increasingly mediated by technologies. Modern soilless growing techniques are changing the face of how and where we can ‘do’ food. These new modes of farming depend on architectures in order to synthesise and move elements of landscape. Agritecture (agriculture+architecture) is a relatively new term, used to denote – “the art, science, and practice of incorporating agriculture into the built environment” (vertical-farming.net). This research seeks to investigate the potential (and risks) of soilless (i.e. where natural earth is not the main growth medium or landscape) Agritecture and its proponents to disrupt our existing food systems, and to draw out pathways that can contribute to the transition of soilless Agritecture from niche to norm.
Working Research Questions and Aims:
Analytical Research Level (research questions):
– Which complex fields of problems for soilless agritecture – are perceived and experienced? (Actor Mental Models)
– How are these problems embedded in society and nature? (System Structures)
– What are the pertinent influencing factors and processes? (Patterns and Relationships, Maps)
– What options exist for intervening in / restructuring the current food system, facilitating transition? (Leverage Points)
– What are the economic, social and environmental impacts of different options? (Scenarios)
Normative Research Level Aims (contribution to academic discourse and theory)
– to clarify the complex fuzzy framing of ‘soilless agritecture’’ (case examples, interviews, language, taxonomy)
– to clarify the goals of a sustainable food system and of soilless agritecture’s role in this
– to reconstruct the processes of relevant discourses (determined during the study – for example spatial planning, sustainable food systems) in light of my findings and to contribute to its advancement.
Operational Research Level aims (contribution to policy and practice)
– to examine the practical terms and conditions for action
– to elaborate and prioritise strategies towards facilitating the introduction of soilless growing according to the analysed conditions and their societal implementation and implications
– to produce decision support tools and policy relevant guidelines that bring together the findings of this research into a meaningful and useable manner.