In an inspiring webinar, the winners of the Urban Greenhouse Challenge’2 presented their ideas to lead the way to the food of tomorrow.
To design an urban greenhouse for the city of Dongguan in China that integrates food production with outstanding architecture, convincing business model and social impact in one sustainable concept- that was the goal for 53 teams who joined Urban Greenhouse Challenge’2 in October 2019. Last Wednesday in an inspiring Webinar the three winners, team Bagua, team KAS and teAMSpirit shared deeper insights on their concepts and the process through which they arrived there.
Their concepts showed what it means to lead to way to the food of tomorrow. The idea of sustainability was at the core of the Challenge, and in the Webinar the teams, guided by the moderators Francesco Orsini (University of Bologna) and Patricia Paiva (Universidade Federal de Lavras), explained how they gave meaning to this.
The concept of the winning team Bagua is about being prepared to adapt to future changes in light of climate change. “The bagua symbol comes from Taoism and it means going with the flow, embracing change and not going against it: this was our guiding principle.” explained Alejandro Rueda. “For this reason, it’s important that The Bagua is not just a building that produces food, but also a building that makes a real impact by educating the future generations of farmers”. For this reason, the team designed the Bagua’s Prospective Producer Program, focusing on a wide range of topic including traditional agriculture, farm and business management, healthy nutrition and circularity.
TeAMSpirit focused on integrating food production with nature and with Chinese cultural heritage through the Turtle concept. “The turtle in China represents wisdom, longevity, wealth and protection.” said Hanna Winters. “It was important to adapt our concept to the community in Dongguan and we wanted to do so through a concept that they could understand and recognize”. Adapting to the local context was one of the team’s key focuses: “We put time and effort into creating a survey that we sent out to potential customers in Dongguan, in order to understand their concerns, issues, habits and needs. This gave us a solid base to develop our concept”.
Finally, Ivo ten Have and Kyungchun Kim from Team KAS explained how they aimed to secure the future for small-holder farmers, rural urban migrants, and consumers in an integrated way. “Our aim was to reconnect people with agriculture while at the same time including marginalized groups, such as the rural urban migrants that often end up unemployed”. “Reconnecting people to agriculture and food requires education”, continued Ivo, “including cooking practices. In our concept, consumers have a chance to be a part of everything that goes into their plates. This aims to make young people more aware and more excited about agriculture”.
"Demanding, but totally worth it"
In their presentation the teams also gave useful insight and tips on the Challenge. “It was a great and extremely rewarding opportunity.” said Alejandro. “It made us excited about the future.” Interdisciplinarity and the possibility to work in teams with vastly different background were mentioned as key characteristics of the Challenge. “Cooperation is key. You don’t want to work on an island, you want to integrate all the available knowledge in one product” said Ivo.
It does not end with learning experiences. When asked by Francesco Orsini about her experience in the Challenge, Hanna from TeAMSpirit explained “The Challenge is certainly an intense and demanding process but it’s totally worth it. It was a great networking opportunity: we are currently speaking with affiliated Metabolic and Bajes Kwartier in Amsterdam (topic of the first Urban Greenhouse Challenge) to incorporate our concepts into already existing projects.Some team members have found internship positions with our knowledge partners from the Challenge.” When asked about these collaborations she noted that getting in touch with experts was easier than expected. ‘’Most of it went through LinkedIn and the events organized by the Challenge were a great opportunity to get to know people and gather contacts. People were all very interested in the process and in the Challenge”.
The Webinar provided an extremely inspiring opportunity for people interested in urban farming and in the future of food. It also useful insights on how ideas can be shaped and molded to have a real impact for a sustainable world, and the challenge offered the teams a great opportunity to do just this.