Seminar 3: Agricultural Urbanism/Agrarian Urbanism

•April 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Seminar members: Myself, Amanda, Caleb, DJ, Anita, Lindsay, Brydget, Mitchell

Article 1: The Integration of Urban Agriculture into Urban Planning- An Analysis of the Current Status and Constraints– Axel Drescher


Behar, Anthony. Green Gotham. Sipa Press/AP. Urban Farming is Growing a Green Future. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

  • Urban agriculture is typically on a smaller scale, not intended for commercial profit. Its primary function is to feed the community, promote healthy living and enables the creation of a resilient system. Where as Peri urban families depend on commercial agriculture to support they’re way of life, which is threatened by the expansion of city sprawl. 
  • Urban agriculture is the ancient practice of gardening in urban settings. It provides many benefits to the people in the surrounding communities, yet it is a practice that is not widely used in North America. Some of the upsides to Urban Agriculture include:
  1. An increase of green space
  2. The production of pesticide-free food products
  3. Less noise pollution
  4. Depletes transport costs by closing the distances to agricultural land which is usually placed outside of the city
  5. Develops community pride
  6. Increases self sufficiency of the community
  7. Decreases ground water pollution
  8. Raises overall environmental awareness

In order for Agricultural Urbanism to be promoted in an area, steps have to be taken including:

  1. Appealing the public to promote participation
  2. Proper education on how to better use land for future uses
  3. proper education on the long term health and environmental benefits
  4. proper education on of gardening, to be understood by the people
  5. quality leadership from within the community

Article 1 Discussion

  1. In theory, urban agriculture is ideal, but in reality are inner-city people going to implement it? In the end, I believe it depends on the individual. If they the time to tend to a food crop then yes, it is implementable. However, most people may not have the time to tend to such an activity, despite the benefits of having fresh, home-grown food.
  2. What do you think are some of the benefits of including designers in the implementation of urban agriculture strategies? Designers are capable of carefully integrating the proper land and area design to maintain agriculture within the city, working with the dense landscaping of the area.

Article 2: Urban Agriculture: Environment, Ecology and the Urban Poor, by Nigel Webb


Heisler, Todd. City Sprouting. The New York Times. JPG. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

The article attempts to break down and explain the reasons for the discrepancies between the empirical findings and literature relating to the environmental and ecological benefits of urban agriculture. The article also asserts that urban agriculture should be understood from the perspective of the people who practice it in the hopes that this could bridge the gap between theoretical understanding, and the needs of people in the urban environment.

  • Most people who partake in Agricultural urbanism are facing economic hardships, and as their economic standing improves they no longer tend to such tactics
  • Difficult to measure the amount that people are composting
  • Those in lower economic status tend to feed their families for the least amount of money possible which sometimes rules out locally grown produce
  • Difficult to measure increases in environmental awareness

Article 2 Discussion:

  1. Should the urban poor be the only ones to worry about Urban Agriculture, or should everyone, even though the middle class – upper class residents have the money to buy their produce? I believe that the implementation of Agricultural Urbanism can serve to bridge the gap between these different social classes. It is a means of creating a greater sense of community, where people can get to know each other. The urban poor are provided with their own food stock and the middle and upper classes can help with the production and help further the people’s cashback.

  2. Why do you think there is a disconnect between what the experts say and the data that is being collected in relation to urban agriculture practices? I believe that it is simply just a study that is difficult to collect proper findings on. Yes, there are the people who implement agricultural practices as their living, but it is hard to keep track of those who use such regimes within their homes in the city, unless a poll is taken from every household.


Seminar 2: Sustainable Resources – Sustainable Site Planning

•April 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Seminar members: Claire, Jody, Elyssa, Tong, Madeline, Erns

Reading 1: Sustainable Infrastructure: The Guide to Green Engineering and Design by S. Bry Sarte, Chapter 6 – Sustainable site planning, built systems, and material flows

  • the understanding of natural and human systems will promote interaction with the elements, assess their value, and from there will enhance or protect them through the development process
  • Sustainable site planning: understanding a living system, truly sustainable design means never designing the same thing twice because all ecosystems are different
  • Understanding natural patterns: the loss of one element in a system will affect other elements, design must be integrated into the order of things to work
  • Performing contextual background studies: take inventories of the site and determine the constraints and opportunities
  • Conducting inventories of natural and built systems: working with the natural qualities of the site to enhance design as well as the surrounding environment

Reading 1 Discussion

Do you have any ideas or considerations for existing sites in Winnipeg and how they may be designed in a more sustainable way?

  • A class discussion formed around the empty land around Bishop Grandin and the possible development of a wetland or agriculture field. However, developing the land in those two particular ways hinders the area useless during the winter. Another topic brought up was the possibility of the metro going through that area, but the land conditions would have to be greatly altered in order to fulfill such a task, which may end up damaging the natural ecosystem.

Reading 2: Sustainable Urban Development and the Multi-level transition perspective by Peter Naess and Nina Vogel


Madsen, Mikael Lyk. Fredericia.Vejle, Fredericia and Lillebælt. Skyscrapercity. Posted April 15, 2006. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

  • A case study of the city of Fredericia, Denmark – a Danish provincial city developing land use and transport infrastructure
  • Sustainability and Urban development: sustainable development is about meeting basic human needs in a way that sustains the possibilities for future generations to meet their own needs
  • A large portion of CO2 emissions worldwide stem from building and transportation in cities
  • urban sprawl is a result of overactive transport routes, to shorten travel distances compact cities are the way to go, requiring shorter trips and more modes of local transport since major companies are based within the city center
  • downfall of high-density = less green space, less adaptation to climate, more exposure to air, noise pollution, and traffic accidents, and greater growth in the size of buildings
  • Fredericia develops a clear separation between urban and non-urban land, where personal car traffic is banned from the inner city. They reduce land consumption by reusing already developed areas, impose restrictions on car traffic, improve public transport, and develop boundaries between needs and desires.
  • The case reflects the need to critically approach the landscape level conditions for suitable transitions, with which a high degree of political steering is needed.

Reading 2 Discussion

For those who live in an urban development, would you be willing to give up your relativly large amount of personal yard space and move into a multi-unit housing development in the inner city? what are the benefits of suburbia? what are the benefits of living in the inner city?


Petzold, Greg. Painting Condo Numbers. AAOM. JPG. Posted January 31, 2013. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

  • Multi-family housing is okay if you’re a student and cannot pay for a house
  • Multi-family housing is not practical for raising a family. People want prospect, land and space for themselves and for their family to grow in. It is a matter of private living, living in condominiums and such does not offer as much amenities.
  • Class consensus shows that people like their open space and front yards and would not want to give them up
  • Suburbia offers comfort
  • Inner city living is close to amenities, public transit, possible no yard to care for etc

would you be willing to vote for politicians that would implement new laws to stop undeveloped land being zoned for new housing, commercial and industrial purposes? is there a point as to when such laws would become too extreme?

  • personally, I believe that it is up to the people to decide where they want to live, not up to the government. For some people the urban landscape is ideal because it provides them with all their amenities (food, work, public transport). Denser city conditions, on the other hand, may not be suitable to families that simply want to settle in a quiet neighbourhood – which would be ideal in the suburbs. In the end is it up to the clientele. 

Seminar 1: Biodiversity in the Next Century

•March 30, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Seminar members: Kelvin, Kathleen, Larissa, Irene, Stella, Tom, Zae, May, Olivia

Reading 1: Scenarios for Global Diversity in the 21st Century

  • Studies indicate that biodiversity will continue to decline over the 21st century, however, the range of the projected changes is greater than most studies suggest, party because there are major opportunities to intervene through better policies, but also because of large uncertainties in the projections.
  • The Four Metric Classic of Biodiversity: what are the factors that are affecting biodiversity?
  1. Species Extinctions: developed by a lack of understanding of species ecology, especially migration rates and habitat specificity, differences between model approaches and model sensitivity. Extinctions at a local scale can have negative impacts on ecosystem services such as primary productivity, nutrient cycling, and invasion resistance.
  2. Species Abundance and Community Structure: degree of land use is a major factor of biodiversity depletion, since areas are cleared for city and town development
  3. Habitat loss and Degradation: much more responsive. Climate change is projected to cause major changes in marine habitats through increased water temperature, ocean acidification, and expansion of oxygen minimum zones. In freshwater ecosystems, changes in river discharge and nutrient loads affect the ecosystem services such as water provisioning and quality
  4. Distribution of Species and Biomes: a rearrangement of ecosystems, where other species migrate to other areas and affect the natural cycle there, creating novel communities
  • The importance of the drivers of biodiversity loss changes across realms, with land-use change being the a dominant factor in both terrestrial and marine systems, while climate change affects all realms.
  • Overall, the article concentrates on the development of models and data to correctly display how biodiversity is lost across realms. The writers want to include a large number of factors into one study, thinking it will improve results. However, I believe that by keeping studies simple and certain factors separate, there is a smaller degree of error that can be developed in the study models.

Reading 2: Natur-Park Sudgelande: Linking Conservation and Recreation in an Abandoned Railyard in Berlin


Group Odious. Schoenberg-Sudgelande_14. Schoneberger Sudgelande Park by Odious. Landezine. JPG. Posted February 1, 2013. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

  • From 1945-1989, urban development ran slow in Berlin, where areas destroyed by the war remained free of renewed development and natural colonization took place, particularly the railyards which have had depleted service
  • ‘Nature of the Fourth Kind’: the development of urban-industrial ecosystems, Berlin intends to integrate such systems into the urban open green space for the public to experience nature, however if a lot of people visit and use the area the natural balance of the ecosystem can be upset
  • Schoneberger Sudgelande is one of the first official conservation areas in Germany in which the natural environment is protected while  being open to the public, consisting of dry grasslands, tall herbs, shrub vegetation, and individual woodlands. The vegetation provides habitats for a multitude of plants and animal species, with rare species in the grassland areas. Between 1981 to 1991, however, the woodlands have doubled in terms of domination over the grasslands
  • Nitrogen fixation promotes the establishment of more demanding species and clonal growth allows black locust trees to regenerate in its own stands, so it won’t be driven out by other trees.
  • Challenges of the Sudgelande Master plan:
  1. Conservation vs. Recreation: making the park open to the public will affect the species diversity within the environment, since the rare species in the grasslands are easily trampled . However, making the area unavailable to urban visitors contradicts the goals of conservation, which is to promote natural experiences to the public
  2. Wilderness vs. Biodiversity: natural vegetation dynamics would, in a short time, lead to a complete dominance of woodlands, if we don’t interfere the ecosystem will be taken over by the dominant black locust trees.
  • The model of culture and wilderness: simultaneity of culture and wilderness, distance and nearness of the visitor, creating zoned spaces to control natural and social processes. A path system was developed in the Sudgelande based on the old railyard construction, with the conservation area in the centre of the Sudgelande visible from a raised walkway. The area was divided into clearings, groves, and wild woods, with each respective area depleting in human interaction. Overall, there is a balance between the developing wilderness and the human history prevalent in the relics of the railway.

Group Odious. Schoenberg-Sudgelande_02. Schoneberger Sudgelande Park by Odious. Landezine. JPG. Posted February 1, 2013. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

Seminar Q/A

Do you think that the park should be left to its natural state or should the park be open to the public?

Yes I believe that it should. Nature conservation is put into place so that urban dwellers can have the experience of the natural environment for generations to come if possible. By closing such sites off, this contradicts the goals of conservation.

Is the park a good example of a successful integration of nature and wildlife into the urban environment?

With the given measures and the amount of work put into the care and maintenance of the ecosystem, the sectoring of public and green space, the Sudgeland is a wonderful example of landscaping design, which serves to connect natural and human processes.

What are some of the factors that could account for massive differences in projections for biodiversity in the next century?

Factors include different opinions/perspectives of driving forces behind studies, different databases accessed to gather information, the fact that not all of the same informations is included in some studies (some topics are omitted), and inaccuracies in projection models.

Should humans intervene with nature to preserve biodiversity, or rather let nature take its own course?

Atmos 5 – Maria Aiolova

•March 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Urbaneering Utopia

  • Maria Aiolova is a Bulgarian critic, architect and urban designer concentrating on the theory, science, and application of ecological design, 
  • Coined the title ‘Urbaneering Utopia’, a new profession for the design of cities
  • Maria is the founder of Terreform ONE (Open Network Ecology),  a NY based studio and lab workspace, working with living materials developing parametric design concentrating on organic growth
  • She defined ‘urbaneers’  as people with the environmental consciousness of Jane Jacobs and the ferociousness of Robert Moses, multidisciplinary advocates with the skills and knowledge to merge different practices into design
  • A few examples of the firm’s projects include:
  1. A studio design situated in a Navy Building Yard, to be completed in 2014
  2. Urban Design concept for Brooklyn, concentrating on the needs of the population within the physical boundary, design based on culture. Incorporating productive green space to filter water, grow food, and create energy

    Brooklyn Urban Planculture-ist. Soft Cars and Living Homes: How Biologically-Based Architecture May be the Key to Greening Our Cities. The Culture-ist. Posted November 9, 2012. (Accessed March 29, 2013)

    Brooklyn Urban Plan
    culture-ist. Soft Cars and Living Homes: How Biologically-Based Architecture May be the Key to Greening Our Cities. The Culture-ist. Posted November 9, 2012. (Accessed March 29, 2013)

  3. SoftCar: a concept car developed with GM and Frank Gehry, created with the goal of no vehicle-related deaths in mind
  4. Blimp Bumper Bus: on the fly mobility, a design based on the Macy Fair parade balloons
  5. Urban Design concept for NY: the coastal wetlands were washed away from the hurricane, the design was developed to replenish them by cutting military ships apart, submerging them, and build upon them.
  6. Fab Tree Fab: a whole eco-design concept concentrating on tree growth. A CNC scaffolding serves as a frame for a tree to grow around, creating an inhabitable shelter.

    FabTreeHabculture-ist. Soft Cars and Living Homes: How Biologically-Based Architecture May be the Key to Greening Our Cities. The Culture-ist. Posted November 9, 2012. (Accessed March 29, 2013)

    culture-ist. Soft Cars and Living Homes: How Biologically-Based Architecture May be the Key to Greening Our Cities. The Culture-ist. Posted November 9, 2012. (Accessed March 29, 2013)

  7. Meat House
  8. Rapid Refuse: a ziggurat design concept using waste as a material
  9. Mycoform: bricks created with mushroom cells (mycelia amalgamatron method)
  10. Future North: an urbanization exploration questioning what happens when the earth becomes unhabitable. The main, best cities are to separate and coalesce at the north pole

Overall, Maria Aiolova has one underlaying concept and strategy with all of her plans: the incorporation of multiple disciplines to come to one goal. Design is not limited to just designers, great design incorporates the ideas and standards of multiple disciplines. The urban environment consists of a collection of different people contained within a defined area. By incorporating the concepts and idea development of other fields into a design, it becomes applicable to a greater number of people, creating a more liveable and multifaceted environment to inhabit.

Omer Arbel – Accidental Beauty

•March 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Being an extemist in material exploration and product design, Omer’s lecture certainly served as an innovative spark leading into the Container project. The concept of pushing a given material to its limit and designing without a specific outcome in mind seems to be very daunting, yet he has managed to make it work out, creating beautiful works of interior decor.

All of his projects primarily concentrate on form and finding meaning in form, whether being sculptural or irrational. They are about creating a formal language, based on formal obsession with the author or an ego based on specific sculptural aspects. A few of works were discussed during the lecture, with titles corresponding with numbers:

Project 19

  • Concentrates on sand-casting, where metal is cast in sand
  • Patterns are created by oxidation and contact with the sand when the sand cavity is flooded
  • In this project, the overspill is the product
  • Formally, the only decision made in the creation of the product is the diameter of the circle of the mold, everything else is deviated by method, being accidental
Series 19

Series 19
Lewis, Gwenael. Series 19 by Omer Arbel for Bocci. Domus. JPG. Posted on April 17, 2011. (Accessed March 24, 2013)

Project 28

  • Concentrates on glass blowing and what happens when air flow is reversed, when air is taken out of the glass
  • Glass has the texture of honey when hot, then becomes inert
  • Glass blows up like a soap bubble, and is rotated so it does not sag. There is a 70 sec. window between heating and cooling
  • Another colour is introduced overtop of the first bubble, even hotter, creating a vacuum between the two layers
  • Each finished product is unique with each procedure
Project 28

Project 28
Themethodcase. 28 Series by Omer Arbel. The Method Case. JPG. Posted June 5, 2011. (Accessed March 24, 2013)

Project 41.1

  • Applied for an art display competition, lost based upon cost, time, and specifications
  • Created by spraying foam on wooden boxes (specifically sized to house artwork) stuffed with hay (so they do not collapse under the weight of the foam). The foam expands as it cures filling all crevices
  • The straw and then the boxes are removed, leaving behind a foam structure, which is then painted white.
  • Surrealist piece with an aggressive form, the display actually took away from the pieces being exhibited

Project 41.1
Hot, Angela. Focus on Creative Process, Says Vancouver Industrial Designer. Designedge. JPG. Posted on August 7, 2012. (Accessed March 24, 2013)

Project 57

  • Another piece of lighting based on glass-blowing, concentrating on a sophisticated understanding of heating and cooling of glass, adding and removing air
  • Little globs of glass are made with air as well as a larger, white hollow bulb
  • The hollow bulb is heated and the smaller globs are attached onto its surface. When heated, the air bubbles in the small globs pop, creating different colours on the surface
  • The final step: the entire piece is dipped into dark grey glass, the very hot air over the cool air pockets expands to form cloud-like pieces

Project 57
Bocci. bocci: the making of the 57 chandelier by omer arbel. designboom. JPG. Posted on February 21, 2013. (Accessed on March 24, 2013)

Project 0

  • An honorary idea, proposed for the Venice Biennale
  • Based on destroying the Canadian pavilion created by the Italians, which is inaccurate in their portrayal
  • It is an artistic intervention, a destruction of a historical monument. Pretty difficult to declare that the project is not of criminal intent