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Introduction to foresight: cities – land for food

Introduction to foresight: cities – land for food

Students from the Sustainable Cities Design Lab imagined tomorrow’s cities, with a particular focus on urban agriculture.

Working session on scenarios directed by Clémentine Laurent-Polz: the exercise allows students to work on large-scale photomontages combined with the critical representation of future scenarios.


The aim of the pedagogical exercise run by Clémentine Laurent-Polz, with all the students from the Sustainable Cities Design Lab, was twofold: to work on the representation of prospective scenarios and to show the interactions and consequences of urban design.

More than just anecdotal questions of communal gardens, the issues of agriculture and particularly urban agriculture are one of the central challenges of urban design. Are vegetable gardens the future of cities? How can cities revert to being "land for food"? The town of Azé volunteered to take part in this exercise as well as CEREMA (a French center of expertise for environmental and planning matters) and the International Urban Food Network (IUFN).

For this foresight exercise, the choice of urban agriculture may be, for 2050, a powerful factor for change in urban and suburban lifestyles and mobility, and one which is at the heart of the sustainable cities debate.

Examples of scenarios
From the choice of viewpoints (analytical field seminar in the village of Azé)...

To the conceptualization of the scenario highlighting the issues at stake in agricultural production and sector-specific questions...

To the representation as a deliberately "utopian" future scenario, highlighting the issues of suburban agriculture in spatial development, and possible interventions in urban design.

The r(el)ational city by Camille De Langenhagen - Carole Kim Tiam - Claire Le Floch - Camille Ollivier

From right to left:
- remote agricultural zone is divided into parcels alternating crops, livestock and fallow, in order to preserve soil resources,
- infertile zone has become an industrial and logistics interface (transit of food goods, raw material processing, recycling),
- the re-designation of soil through phytoremediation,
- the new town grows upwards and becomes more densely populated. A town center where cultural heritage and new constructions blend together harmoniously,
- land is rare and predominantly “soft” mobility can be found at every level of the town.

In the project presented above on intra-metropolitan agriculture, Clarisse Lebosse, Elsa Semin, Mathias Adam and Clément Breuille demonstrate the difficulty involved in guaranteeing intra-metropolitan agriculture with energy supplies specific to sustaining soil-less culture. Intra-metropolitan agriculture would remain at the stage of raising public awareness.

The scenarios were presented at the IUFN international colloquium – Land for food, Land use & Sustainable Food Governance of City-regions, from 24-25th April 2014, at UNESCO.

Clémentine Laurent-Polz and Florent Orsoni
Sustainable Cities Design Lab