Feeding Boston

The development of postindustrial food supply systems parallels the explosion of the modern city. This studio will deal with an ordinary matter whose future impacts every one of the world’s citizens. On the one hand, how we eat is related to global challenges as inequalities of distribution, climate crisis, or cultural sovereignty. On the other, attempts of healthiness in the production, sustainability, on chain distribution, or responsible comestibles consumption, often become individual and solitary actions against a system that responds to structural rules of economy.

Focusing on Greater Boston, the studio will analyze temporal, spatial, and relational patterns of food production, transportation, storage, and sale. The first part of the studio will consist of a thorough analysis in order to set Boston’s foodprint, understood as the complex web of both static and dynamic infrastructures between buildings, urban space, policies, and personal attitudes toward food. We will investigate the capacity of food supply systems to trigger social cohesion, to create local centralities, and to foster urban transformation processes.

At the start of the studio, students will select one of the following topics to develop: 

– Food in central places/food as a commodity; 

– Food in the suburbs/food deserts in Boston; 

– Ethnic food versus luxury imported edibles; 

– Farmers markets, local producers, and locavorist consumers; 

– Food justice, gleaners, ugly food, and freeganism

– Mobile food, takeaway, kitchen incubators, and dark kitchens; 

– Food supply infrastructures, warehouses, and coldscapes

– Food processing or the loss of freshness in raw foods; and

– Organic and inorganic food waste processing.

This research work will overlap with a continued design process to identify programs and research sites. Three sites with their respective programs will be proposed at the beginning of the course, but alternatives emerging from the analysis developed and equivalent in the ambition of the objectives they raise, will also be encouraged. Representations, both at urban and at detail scales, are posed as the main research and design tools.

Facing a reality in postindustrial metropolises in which food has become a commodity, and in which most people have settled into a passive relationship with edibles as consumers, designers are called on to be actors and to change the rules of future urban food systems.