Productive Urban Landscapes

Research and practice around the CPUL design concept

The Edible Playground and the Sacred Fields: spatial imaginary for the Bagmati riverbanks in Kathmandu (source: Mitchell, M. and Iglesias, A.R. www 2019)

Productive Urban Landscapes for Kathmandu, Nepal

This month saw the pre-publishing of Urban agriculture in Kathmandu as a catalyst for the civic inclusion of migrants and the making of a greener city, an article by Maurice Mitchell and Amara Roca Iglesias from the CASS School of Art, Architecture and Design at London Metropolitan University. It is a wonderfully illustrated piece of design research exploring, with the words of its authors, ‘the opportunities offered for the creation of a green city on the recently secured Bagmati riverbanks in Kathmandu, which is subject to rapid inward migration from landless rural farmers’.

The article aims to position the ‘role architectural theory and practice can play in fitting two aspirations together’: in this instance, the one of migrant farmers dwelling on the newly secured riverbanks and the one of established residents who would like to use those riverbanks to make their city green and healthy. The research involved setting hypothetical design projects in a rolling design studio program run by the author(s) and, based on this experience, establishing ‘a theoretical framework […] around the nature and processes involved in the assembly and loose fitting of elements made by different people at different scales and times and with different intentions into a civic entity, which is greater than the sum of its part’.

Mitchell and Iglesias formulate that often ‘a great challenge is being unable to imagine a different future’. Referring to the writing of Cornelius Castoriadis, they use images, the “imaginary” ‘as a formal representation that stands for an entire society comprising an institutional assembly sharing the same world of meaning with values and social roles encoded within it’. Within this, the CPUL concept features as a vision that may help to reconcile different urban aspirations. The authors write: ‘However, a new intraurban occurs, that is, a desire by the established citizenry to green the city. Urban farming, domestic gardening, outdoor sports and leisure, horticulture, and parkland are all seen by established urban residents as partial remedies to pollution and a pathological lack of connection with nature inherent in contemporary urban life. New continuously productive urban landscapes (CPULs) are being imagined (Viljoen and Bohn, 2014)’.


The article has later been published in the journal Frontiers of Architectural Research, vol 9 (2020), pp. 169-190, Online at: DOI: 10.1016/j.foar.2019.07.007, see here.

For more information on one of the authors, Maurice Mitchell, with whom Andre and Katrin worked before, see here.

Image: The Edible Playground and the Sacred Fields: spatial imaginary for the Bagmati riverbanks in Kathmandu (source: Mitchell, M. and Iglesias, A.R. www 2019)

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* urban agriculture* urban designInternational

Katrin Bohn • 9th September 2019

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