Closing debate Agriculture and Architecture

Food Supply: taking both sides
organized and moderated by Mariana Sanchez Salvador

Programme

17:00 Presentation
17:15 – Guests
Jorge Gaspar
Carla Amado Gomes
Henrique Pereira dos Santos

Coffee-Break

18:30 – Guests
Maria do Rosário Oliveira
Samuel Niza
Rita Folgosa

What we eat is arguably one of the strongest determinants of space, landscape and architectural structures and is a phenomenon which bridges different eras and multiple scales. Agriculture is at the centre of political and economic structures, community interactions and land management — agriculture was, after all, the reason why cities arose, in a centuries-long interaction that facilitated the development of modern civilisation itself. It is through food that geography and its potential are celebrated, that history is incorporated into tangible and intangible culture and that bonds are created between people of different generations, cultural backgrounds and incomes. Food is our common ground.

However, current urban food systems are one of the main drivers of environmental destruction, negatively impacting land use, reducing biodiversity, exhausting and polluting water resources, and emitting a significant amount of greenhouse gases. On the other hand, cities — the main form of human habitat today — also pose challenges for environmental preservation and natural resource management in relation to their underlying economic and social dynamics. Nonetheless, cities aggregate huge intellectual and economic resources, openness to new behaviours and political power and will play a key role in our the future.

The interdependence between the urban and the rural has existed for significantly longer than the period prior to their mutual reliance. Therefore, in a context of growing world urbanisation, changing diets and lifestyles and with the growing threat of climate change, it is urgent to rethink the interaction between the city and its surroundings, the countryside, not as two antagonistic realities, but according to a dynamic of complementarity, in which the greatest potential for transformation may reside for the resolution of our current planetary challenges.

Linking past and future, tradition and innovation, can the interrelationship between cities and food production become the key to a more balanced and enriching future in which the challenges we face as a species are met?

Debate

Part 1
City and countryside evolved together. The agricultural resources of the hinterlands influenced the location of our cities, their manner of development, the size they attained, and the physical and commercial relations they maintained with their surrounding regions. Cities and their inhabitants have had a deep impact on the landscape of territories near and far. With industrialisation processes, a physical and conceptual departure arose between these realities. The relationship between the human being and the natural world was transformed, manifesting in new attitudes, writings, works and even legislative documents. The first part of this debate will deal with this joint evolution of two complementary realities and their present situation, questioning which paths may be opened for the future.

Part 2
With the changing relationship between the city and its productive surroundings, urban metabolism itself was transformed, becoming translated into linear flows of materials, energy and nutrients that impact global systems. We have witnessed unprecedented urban sprawl and the transformation of the logic of internal organisation itself, processes which are still developing. At the same time, the very ability to feed urban populations is under question, including the potential economic, environmental, and social costs of this challenge for the planet. This second part of this debate will discuss the processes that have triggered these transformations and what challenges — and solutions — cities will have to explore in the future.

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