Productive Urban Landscapes

Research and practice around the CPUL design concept

Aerial of entire site with envisioned expansion by William McDonough & Partners (source: William McDonough & Partners 2022)

Agro Food Park, Denmark

On the outskirts of Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, Agro Food Park connects the urban to the agricultural bringing together agricultural organisations for collaboration and networking. Making up Agro Food Park are over 80 agricultural or food production companies and, as it stands, over 1200 employees. The park accommodates large, established companies as well as…

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Almere Oosterwold’s masterplan (source: MVRDV 2022)

Almere Oosterwold, The Netherlands

Almere Oosterwold is an experimental town development situated 30km east of Amsterdam. It became a municipality in the 1980’s and has since grown into a 1000 house community. The principle is ‘You can do (almost) anything you want, but you have to organise it yourself.’ The design of Almere Oosterwold includes 59% of the land…

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Beacon Food Forest aerial view (source: Ensia 2022)

Beacon Food Forest, USA

This grassroots project working in Seattle transforms publicly owned open land within a central urban park into a self-sustaining productive ecosystem. Starting up in 2009, the project took over a 7 acre plot in Jefferson Park, reinventing it from a patch of grass to a productive community-serving landscape. It is currently the world’s largest food…

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On the Brighton Greenway – vegetable beds and apartments to the left, wild flower patch and old locomotive track pillars to the right. (source: Jasmine Cook 2022)

Brighton Greenway, Great Britain

Brighton Greenway is a narrow strip of brown-turned-green spaces with a walking path through the centre. It leads from New England Road all the way to Brighton Station, though there are plans to extend it to the Preston Park area. The greenway runs mostly between 5-10 story apartment buildings. The central location and the heavy…

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Architect’s drawing of what inside a Buzz Building would look like. (Source: Belatchew Arkitekter, 2022)

Buzz Buildings insect farms, Sweden

Belatchew Architects of Sweden are pioneering the design of alternative food solution urban farms, what they call ‘Buzz Buildings’. Buzz Buildings, at the moment still a design proposal, would be insect farms for the purpose of consumption that are positioned on Stockholm’s major roundabouts. If nine of these urban farms were in operation, it could…

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(source: International Bauausstellungen www 2022)

Emscher Park, Germany

Beginning in 1989, the declining industrial Ruhr region of Germany underwent a transformation as part of the Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) Emscher Park. After the closure of most industrial plants and mines, there were many open spaces left and much wasteland. The IBA Emscher Park project was initiated by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia with the aim to repair…

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Members checking on their produce. (Source: Self-sustainability, 2022)

Little Donkey Farm, China

With the development of urbanisation and industrialisation in China, rural land is occupied for commercial values, and people living in the cities are isolated from fresh agricultural products. Meanwhile, because of the abuse of chemical inputs, food security problems are becoming more evident. Building a sustainable food system with social-economic value seems to be more…

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Aerial photo showing expanse of the symbiotic landscape (source: Zhejiang China 2022)

The Mulberry Dike Fish Pond System, China

One of the food production systems we explored recently is the Mulberry Dike Fish Pond System. Being a productive agricultural landscape in its own right, Dong Chu suggested to revisit it as part of a potential Productive Urban Landscape. In 2017, the Mulberry Dike Fish Pond System in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, was identified by the…

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The architects' vision of the park show the multiple functions productive urban landscapes can have. (source: VWA 2022)

Parc Agro-Urbain Bernex, Switzerland

In 2013, the state of Geneva opened an international competition with an open program brief. The competition asked for proposals that aimed to encourage interaction between the urban population and the agricultural industry, to offer a new ‘vision of the relationship between city and the farmed territory’ and to be a model of a response…

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People harvesting at a Prinzessinnengarten site amongst the city’s buildings. (Source: DW, 2022)

Prinzessinnengarten Berlin, Germany

Launched by Nomadisch Grün (Nomadic Green) in 2009, Prinzessinnengarten Kollektiv Berlin is a project transforming wasted open spaces within Berlin into productive nomadic gardens. All plants are grown in transportable vessels such as potato sacks or milk crates meaning if ever any of the spaces are reclaimed for other purposes the garden can simply be…

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Image: Productive landscape when implemented on the existing space (source: Pia Kante, Katja Mali & Vid Bogovič www 2019)

Productive Dynamic Landscapes, Slovenia

Master’s in Landscape Architecture students Pia Kante, Katja Mali and Vid Bogovič from the University of Ljubljana have been developing a design proposal which they call Productive Dynamic Landscapes. Their concept addresses the issue of how to work with urban sprawl in ways that can overcome current reliance on a culture determined by car use and…

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Turin in Italy aims to use regenerated soil for urban forestry and public green spaces throughout the city. (source: proGIreg www 2022)

Productive Green Infrastructure, Europe

The international project Productive Green Infrastructure for post-industrial urban regeneration (proGIreg) was founded under the umbrella of European Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation action programme and runs until 2023. Just like the CPUL concept, the proGIreg project aims to implement green infrastructure into urban spaces – with less focus on food-producing sites but on the renewal of post-industrial districts. In four front-runner…

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People stand on hte ground level and on a suspension bridge in a green landscape.

Productive urban landscapes, Peru

Over the past 50 years, the city of Lima has undergone a process of rapid urbanisation that has seen millions of people migrating from rural areas to the capital. Widespread urbanisation has deprived the city of much of its natural land, crucial for both agriculture, the environment, and citizen’s wellbeing. This devastating effect is now…

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Valley with rice paddies in the foreground and mountains in the background. (source: National Agricultural Exhibition Centre & China Agricultural Museum 2019)

Rice-fish aquaculture systems, China

The symbiotic rice-fish aquaculture system is an agriculture landscape in Qingtian County, Longxian Village, Zhejiang Province, China, which was listed by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations ) among the first five globally important agricultural heritage systems (GIAHS) in 2005. The rice-fish farming, which could be traced back to 1200 years…

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Masterplan of Shenyang Architectural University showing the position of the rice fields (source: Turenscape Landscape Architecture 2022)

Rice Field Campus, China

As to a country with 1.3 billion people, both food production and sustainable landscape design are vital to every Chinese landscape designer. The Shenyang Architectural University is situated in the North China Liaoning Province with 80 hectares suburban campus. The 3-hectare project is situated in the campus’ southwest. It was been awarded the Design Honor…

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Image: Aerial shot of Houtan Park (source: Turenscape 2022)

Shanghai Houtan Park, China

Turenscape landscape architects lead the renewal project of the Houtan Park’s Huangpu riverfront. Shanghai Houtan Park was built on a brownfield site in 2010. It is a regenerative landscape on Shanghai Huangpu river bank and won the ASLA professional awards. Its urban agriculture, ecological flood control and wetland water purification components are working as an integral…

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Cyclists on their way through a wheat field, the city can be seen in the background (source: With Locals 2022)

South Milan Agricultural Park, Italy

The South Milan Agricultural Park is made up of 47,000 hectares of land including agricultural and forested areas, rivers and historic estates. It sits along the peri-urban belt of South Milan. The main activities undertaken throughout are agricultural and include the management of silvicultural resources, crop production, livestock breeding, and the ‘transformation and management of…

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