Interface Reconnect

Community Self Sufficiency

Fast-paced cities are becoming calmer, as populations seek a more sustainable way of life.

Consumers choose local food, or even grow, raise and make their own. In neighbourhoods and homes, self-sufficiency is becoming more appealing – and urban smallholdings, shared allotments, seed exchanges and rooftop beehives are part of the landscape.

South African wine estate and working farm, Babylonstoren, has become a luxury ‘pick your own’ hotel. Guests go out into the farm to gather fresh produce, which they then cook in self-catering kitchens.

InSeattle, CityLab7, a collective specialising in food and ecosystem design in urban spaces, has created Mushroom Farm. In this educational demonstration centre, mushrooms are grown from the used coffee beans from local cafés, and donated to community programmes that help feed local families. Inspired by the diversity of birds living in cities, Dutch designer Eveline Visser has created Vogelstad, or ‘BirdCity’, a birdhouse frame that can be hung on the side of buildings. Described as ‘a city for a mixed bird community’, each frame features different types and sizes of houses for different bird species.

Image: Mushroom farm by CityLab7

Nature in the urban home

Even in the compact living spaces of modern cities, people are striving to create a self-sufficient lifestyle that reflects rural ways. They are growing their own fruit and vegetables in window boxes, and making the most of small-scale gardens. Designers are helping by bringing nature indoors, working it into the aesthetics and materials of furniture and appliances.

Green Wheel, by Milan-based DesignLibero, is an indoor rotary garden, small enough to fit on a shelf. Based on technology developed by NASA, the wheel lets users grow herbs and leaves without soil, and control temperature and light levels from their smartphones.

Image: Green Wheel by Design Libero

With the Plantable Glass Table, London-based JAILmake explores how nature can ‘claim back’ a manufactured domestic object. Plants, such as herbs and tomatoes, grow in the table’s four legs, bringing the processes of nurturing, picking and eating our food much closer together. The same idea of combining farming with furniture has inspired Seated Garden, by Dutch designer Caroline Prisse. The chair’s wooden structure includes ‘pockets’ containing plastic pots for growing a variety of plants.

Image: Seated Garden by Caroline Prisse


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