Productive Urban Landscapes

Research and practice around the CPUL design concept

Madeira Terrace's location between the sea and the city (source: Max Martin 2019)

Design a place for food growing, preparing and eating on Madeira Terrace, Brighton!

This academic year, Katrin and André are involved in the studio teaching of Year 1 architecture students at the University of Brighton, André as a design tutor and Katrin – starting last week – as a visiting lecturer and critic. For their main design project, students are being asked to design both, ‘a new space for urban agriculture in the centre of historic Brighton’ and ‘a small space where [their] farm produce can be prepared, served and eaten’. From their brief:

The practice of agriculture is one of the cornerstones of civilization as we know it. Cities and their complex social, political and architectural networks are another. As urban populations have expanded and food supply chains have become globalised, it has become clear that creating space for growing food within our cities is essential to having a sustainable relationship with our planet. Urban agriculture improves biodiversity, resilience and air quality and can reduce the carbon-footprint of the food we eat. […] Agriculture is a process with technical requirements, specific to the plant, animal or other produce being cultivated. Plants need the right amount of space, light, water, food and attention to flourish. You will be researching produce and designing spaces – both enclosed and outdoor – that enable their production.
Eating is a near-universal human practice. It takes many forms and happens in an astonishing variety of settings. […] As with agriculture, the preparation and eating of food has specific spatial and technical requirements, which you will explore. The eating of food also, clearly, is of huge cultural significance and is imbued with drama, ceremony, tradition, creativity, generosity and comfort. The architecture of your eating place will respond to the cultural context of the specific food that is being served.
Agriculture and eating are two elements within larger systems of food production and consumption. You will be studying food systems, understanding their inputs, outputs and impacts, discovering their significance to architecture and urban design, and designing your proposal in response to them. Food systems are influenced by the seasons. Your project will grow different food in a different way at different times of year, and the way it is served and eaten will also change. You will be learning and exploring the fundamentals of ‘continuous productive urban landscapes’ (CPULs), guided by leading academics in the field’.

The site is Madeira Terrace, an 852m long arcade of 152 Victorian cast iron arches on Brighton seafront, east of the pier, as well as the sea wall and part of the wide roadway of Madeira Drive. The terrace, its lift tower and the raised walkway that it supports are Grade II* listed heritage assets, that currently are falling into disrepair. The plant life that grows from the base of the sea wall is one of the largest and oldest green walls in Europe. Students will develop a strategy for sensitively working with the listed structure (restoring, rebuilding) and respect and enhance its significance.

The studio is led by Elizabeth Blundell and supported by 4 design and 4 technology tutors. The design project is located in module AD471 “Food Systems”  and taught over 5 months from January until submission in June 2021.


For more information on the University of Brighton’s BA Architecture course see here.

For information on the School of Architecture and Design see here.

Image: Madeira Terrace’s location between the sea and the city (source: Max Martin 2019)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
* architecture* building-integrated agriculture* urban agricultureBrighton

Katrin Bohn • 15th February 2021

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *