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Food systems and spatial planning

Posted on | February 8, 2015 | Comments Off

WG8 – Food systems and spatial planning. Towards a reconnection?

In physical planning the “transition” prospect toward a ‘low carbon’ society calls for a new ‘relocalisation’ of energy and matter flows, especially between urban and rural domain. In such a framework, the presence of a viable, rentable and ‘nature based’ proximity agriculture, strongly connected with the city, even in periurban areas, is emerging as a key issue in planning practices and design, even in coping with resilience as well as fairness matters. In this framework, research on food systems and short supply chains has become increasingly considerable in the urban and spatial planning literature. Further, it is worth highlighting that interest in local food is raising awareness among urban dwellers. It is becoming clear that planners and urban designers should begin to take into account questions about food self-reliance, farmland preservation and food distribution in conceiving morphological and functional patterns at the (bio) regional scale.

The aim of this working group is to analyze how food systems can be integrated in urban and spatial planning in a more efficient way. To this end, we propose some questions we would like to address:

- Why ‘local food’ is hidden behind the city’s boundaries? How could we improve local food systems and their efficiency? Can smart cities integrate the ‘food vector’ in urban and spatial planning? Can the city design a smart food system which integrates ‘local food logistics networks’, embracing consumers, producers, retailers and collection and distribution centres? Can the ‘local food system’ be as efficient as other logistic systems?

- How can we recover and design a connected agriecological structure at the regional and urban scale?; which innovative urban design methods can be developped accordingly to this goal in fostering short food supply chains (market places, logistics, housing, urban/rural interface design…)?

- Which agricultural good practices and territory design can be implemented as integrated tools for resilience, risk prevention, resources protection and food safety (groundwater protection, soil safety, water systems sustainable regeneration)?

- Which organizative and partnership tools for urban-rural joint policies and projects (e.g agricultural parks, river agreements, agri-landscape design…) could we apply, with the aim at preserving prime farmland and empowering farmers in partecipative planning processes and choices

These themes, among others, are increasingly worldwide tackled in many urban and regional experiences, showing the feasibility and importance of agriculture, and food delivering in fostering a new self-relying settlement and development process (e.g. Canada and the USA ‘food policies’ and ‘food hubs’, in Europe, ‘Agricultural Parks’ and ‘agri-urban contracts’).

From this perspective, we invite participants to propose jointly theoretical approaches and experiences to a new sustainable model of city-region, which includes the food vector in land/urban planning, understood as a fundamental part of the urban metabolism. In this regard, the debate will focus on new planning and design tools to enhance a local “foodshed” and on the efficiency of the flows of the ‘local food logistics’ from the farmland to the collection centres, and from them to the consumers.


D. Fanfani, Architecture Department, Florence University, Italy
D. Poli, Architecture Department, Florence University, Italy
S. Callau, Agroterritori Foundation, Spain


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