Denmark is making huge investments in urban agriculture, with some of the world's leading architects and designers steering the way to a whole-systems, ecological approach to growing food. William McDonough + Partners and GXN, along with 3XN Architects, BCVA and Urland, have collaborated to develop a new master plan for the Agro Food Park (AFP), an existing hub of agricultural innovation near Aarhus. The project is designed to enhance cooperation between researchers and businesses and their ability to boost agricultural performance in a dense urban environment, ensuring long-term food security without environmental degradation.
According to William McDonough + Partners, the agricultural food park first opened in 2009. It is owned by The Danish Agriculture & Food Council and currently hosts 75 companies and 1,000 employees. Now spanning 44,000m2, the park will grow an additional 280,000m2 in multiple phases over the next 30 years. William McDonough + Partners said it is expected to “create synergies among the many existing tenants while building an ecosystem inviting new entities to further strengthen products and expertise developed within the hub.”
McDonough later told Inhabitat, “This is a place, literally, where people could be engaging in the business of feeding the world safe, healthy food. That, to us, is very exciting.”
William McDonough + Partners and GXN are specifically focusing on five particular areas that will define the AFP (and potentially future, similar developments) and creative an inspiring space that gives rise to innovation; they include healthy materials, clean energy, increased biodiversity, healthy air, and clean water.
“Embracing Agro-Urban Ecosystem Design, the AFP treats urban and agricultural development together as a unified, productive and restorative ecosystem,” said William McDonough + Partners. “By integrating the carbon cycle and other ecological processes into large scale urban systems and their surroundings – buildings and energy flows, water cycles and wastewater treatment, land use and food production – the AFP creates economic value within the urban and agricultural infrastructure.”
The master plan comprises three main sections – the Lawn, a central communal green space that will become a “showroom” for experimental food production, the Strip, the main street with “active” ground floor facades to ensure a lively atmosphere throughout the day, and five Plazas that “bind” clusters of buildings together, creating individual neighborhoods with distinct identities.
“Innovation occurs best when knowledge is concentrated in clusters and cross-pollinated,” said Kasper Guldager Jensen, Director of GXN. “By linking food production to urban life, we have tried to create an environment where people, knowledge and ideas meet. The dream is to create the framework for agriculture’s answer to Silicon Valley.”