Food and the City: An Examination of the Role of Food in Local Neighbourhood Revitalization
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The majority of people in North America have lost not only the knowledge of how to successfully sustain themselves from the land but, even more troubling, the basic knowledge of where the food comes from, what real food is, or even what to do with it. It is not only basic knowledge of food that is being lost in the consumer culture; many of the private and public spaces that were central to the social fabric of the city, street, and family are changing and losing their significance. The mass marketing of the consumer lifestyle has led to the disappearance of home gardens, local restaurants, neighbourhood coffee shops, and farmers’ markets. It has altered the fine grain of our city, streets, and homes, thereby reducing the social interactions that once created lively streets in the past. This thesis examines both the historical and current relationship and influence of food in cities, streets and homes in relation to the growing issues of access to fresh whole food and the dispersed city form. In addition, it will investigate how food orientated developments such as Community Food Centres can act as a catalyst for urban revitalization in failing urban cores and provide a resiliency to the economies of the city. The analysis of the influence of food, challenges that midsized cites are facing, and a series of precedents will provide a set guidelines for architects and planners developing urban projects. Three main themes are explored as a means to revitalization of urban neighbourhood through food: reuse of under used or abandoned land, our cultural connection to food, and the activities and culture that the two create together. These themes will explore the use and cultural significance of kitchens, markets, and restaurants and public space as architectural spaces that create community as a means to better understand what mechanisms of these aspects are the keys to the building of vibrant communities. This concept will be explored through the design of a community food centre in St. Patrick’s Ward in Guelph, Ontario.