December 30, 2015
Even in urban environments where living space is limited, homegrown food [#1] is more achievable than many might think. Aquaponics, which combines aquaculture farming with hyroponics, is already a recognized contributor to many urban agriculture systems – some of which can be translated to a residential scale. Through this method, food is produced with support from a contained ecosystem of fish, plants, and microbes. Grove Labs, based outside of Boston, is helping to make this method mainstream by providing people with the basic tools for at-home aquaponics. Since growing food at home can affect many of our senses, not just the gustatory one, these types of systems have the potential to catalyze joy and a stronger connection to nature. How could residential spaces be designed to be more compatible with home growing processes? Get some inspiration for food that is easily grown in the home from this Wise Bread piece.
Since April 2011, Brown University’s Colleen Doyle has been “working toward a package-free, waste-free life.” Her ideas for reducing waste in everyday areas of life such as dining, comfort, and hygiene are all documented through her No Trash Project. Beyond achieving a drastic reduction in the waste that her choices generate, Doyle has uncovered a variety of benefits to this goal. As an example, her storage strategies [#2] involve keeping bulk food products and ingredients on open shelves in several clear jars and bottles, which continually inspires new ideas and combinations for meals. How can kitchen design promote thoughtful storage, which in turn celebrates the preparation and enjoyment of food? Learn about the resurgence of “larders,” also known as “pantries,” in this Guardian article.
In the words of industrial designer Mirko Ihrig, the project Bread from Scratch “is a reaction to the fact that many people don’t know where our food comes from.” In this project, Ihrig specifically highlights the process of bread baking because bread is such an “essential and universal food,” relevant to a variety of geographies and socioeconomic statuses. Beyond instigating awareness about agriculture and food production, however, the project also reveals the beauty of making food from scratch [#3]. A similar parallel goal is seen in Kinfolk Magazine’s stunning recipe videos, such as this take on classic pesto. As another added benefit, making your own food (such as these recommended items from the Mother Nature Network) can translate to economic savings. How can architects inspire awareness of food production processes, including opportunities to make food from scratch? Try your hand at do-it-yourself home fermentation with this comprehensive guide, which may coincide with embracing some new storage strategies (see above).
Shelter and food are two of humanity’s most basic necessities. It follows that there would be meaningful similarities between cook and architect [#4]. In “The Architect, the Cook and Good Taste,” author and architect Petra Hagen compares the act of preparing a meal with that of constructing shelter. Through the book, she explores the ways that cultural, sensory, and aesthetic dimensions influence both, drawing important points of connection and contrast. How might a deeper understanding of the sourcing and mixing of edible ingredients inspire a different conception of building materials? What would it mean for a building material to be “nourishing” or “nutritious?” Consider some similar questions from a different angle with neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd’s book, Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters, which examines the links between taste and social, behavioral, and medical wellbeing.