FOOD BANK #4 Project__ the project is a model for the extension of London’s ailing infrastructure which supports the urban dweller, and thus is a response to the classification of London as a city of serious food and energy shortages. The proposal looks towards the future when London’s consumption is expected to be unable to meet demand and when the global population reaches 8.3 billion. This project introduces a half organic, half industrial architecture supplying the City of London with a new series of production and distribution network hubs that adapt their sizes to the amount of resources contained inside of them, feeding the city, providing jobs and re-using the existing architectural infrastructure.
With the demand for resources in the City almost in crisis in 2012, the urban dweller needs a better distribution network across the city for sharing resources with other densely populated areas, and reducing the reliance on imports. Currently there is a private network of infrastructure in place for transportation of food and energy, generally produced else ware and imported into the City, and this is currently a vital artery for the urban dwelling population. However, due to increasing congestion on London’s streets there is obviously a great deal of pressure felt on this network.
I propose a new Urban Artery which aims to harness the inherent potential of infrastructural overlaps in densely populated areas of London, whilst also accommodating the future needs of the growing City. Through a process of research and analysis a series of sites were discovered which straddle a disused underground infrastructure. The project envisages a municipal food production and energy system located in the abandoned royal mail centres across London, giving a purposeful and sustainable legacy to the mail infrastructure in the City. The sites of the Royal mail buildings lie above the London post office railway. The London post office railway was a distribution network connecting the sorting offices of central London via an electric railway, from Whitechapel to Paddington.
The project set in the future sees these Royal mail buildings lying abandoned thanks to the internet and private parcel services. They will now act as nurbs, producing a place where the city’s utilities can be hidden away and a place one can escape the confines of the city streets. The spectacle of a potential disaster to the Cities food and energy infrastructure in the future is substituted for a performative utilitarian architecture to enhance the capital’s ‘life-support system’. Unearthing this historic infrastructure alongside the location of the sites, creates the potential for a new typology of building to grow which could generate new programmatic connections at an urban scale and challenge the existing predominance of the mono-programmatic transport hub.
The project creates an alternative sharing scheme which provides a rapid and dedicated distribution route network across London via the reinvention of the London post office railway as the ‘Resource-Rail’. The line will terminate at a series of new production/distribution hubs; allowing for the production and distribution of vital resources for the urban dweller along the ‘Resource-Rail’ and also creating a sharing scheme in the City. The new building creates opportunities for the existing infrastructure to be reinvented to develop new and often unexpected programmatic connections. However, it will be essentially be a kombucha (a fermented green tea drink) and insect protein production center, using the kombucha qualities to feed the insects population which provides protein for the urban dwellers. The project will also look at other sources of protein and food for the urban dweller looking at diets from the eastern Asia, such as high protein insect meals. Potentially producing a space where people grow, cook and eat food in the same space.
Inspired by natural membranes and tensile structures through the investigation in to a material called SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) which is a by-product of Kombucha, a structure could lie bloated and endlessly reshaping depending on how much food is in it. The large membrane structures sag, fold, swell and fluctuate. They are sustained by a set of moments performing specific operations across the site. The instruments’ residual spaces and the watery bodies upon which they operate present a bizarre architecture where, alongside practical functions, performance and recreation can be sought.