Carrot City: Designing for Urban Agriculture

Taking place from February 25-April 30, 2009 at Toronto’s Design Exchange, this exhibition will show how the design of cities and buildings is enabling the production of food in the city. It will explore the role that creative design professionals have in relation to the food system of cities, and the impact that agricultural issues will have on the design of urban spaces and buildings as society addresses the issues of a more sustainable pattern of living. The focus will be on how the increasing interest in growing food within the city, supplying food locally, and food security in general is changing urban design and built form. The exhibition will show projects in Toronto and other Canadian cities, illustrating how they are changing cities and buildings. It will also include relevant international examples to show how ideas from other countries can be integrated into the Canadian experience. The exhibition will contain a mix of realized projects and speculative design proposals that illustrate the potential for future design that focuses on food issues.



The role of architecture in food production, distribution and related issues is a new area of study, despite the historical importance of food in cities. The emerging alternative food movement has only just begun to engage with the possible contributions that designers and the design process can provide to it. The built environment and food policy meet at the point where architects and landscape architects incorporate farmers’ markets, greenhouses, edible landscapes, living walls, permeable paving, green roofs, and community gardens into architectural programs. Such examples of the connections between food issues and built form have the potential to transform not only food production and distribution, but basic assumptions about the programming required in the design of buildings and urban spaces.


Urban agriculture and food security have attracted considerable interest recently in Toronto and in other cities. Lectures, presentations, exhibits and publications on these subjects have increased significantly in the last few years. These activities include the Edible City exhibit at the Netherlands Architecture Institute, food-related activities in the London Architecture Festival, and several books such as Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives and Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes. In addition, the “Actions” exhibition, currently running at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, features gardening as one of its four focus areas. The curators of this planned exhibition at the DX organized a symposium entitled “The Role of Food and Agriculture in the Design and Planning of Buildings and Cities,” held in May 2008 at Ryerson University in Toronto, attracting considerable attention.



The exhibition will explore the issues raised above through a series of case studies and a number of briefer illustrative proposals. These will be works principally in Canada but also including other relevant projects. It will include a balance between selected projects that were recently completed or are currently under way, and visionary speculative ideas projects by professional designers as well as students. In addition to the projects, a range of products will illustrate technologies and systems that are innovating food production approaches in urban contexts. Some of the main themes expected to be featured include:

• What is the place of food in the city?

• How are “waste” spaces being transformed by food projects?

• What are the implications on materials, technologies and structures?


The content will include boards with images and explanatory text, models, installations,

and videos. Examples of projects include the following:


• The Green Arts Barns project in Wychwood Park, Toronto – a conversion of historically significant former streetcar repair facilities into a multipurpose complex that includes one barn operated by The Stop Community Food Centre (Joe Lobko of du Toit Allsopp Hillier Architects).

• The Don Valley Brick Works in Toronto – a transformation of the historic industrial complex into an environmentally based community centre that encompasses a range of food activities (various consultants including: Diamond & Schmitt Architects & du Toit Allsopp Hillier Architects).

• Farm City/Ravine City – a proposal to use Toronto’s ravines for urban agriculture to reduce our ecological footprint (Chris Hardwicke of Sweeney Sterling Finlayson & Co Architects).

• Urban Agriculture Hub – an exploration of the potential use of the space beneath the elevated part of the Gardiner highway in Toronto as an example of the use of waste spaces for food production and sales (Andy Guiry – Ryerson University).

• Edible Campus – a project to grow food on campus at McGill University (collaboration between the Minimum Cost Housing Group and two Montreal non-profits: Alternatives and Santropol Roulant). Winner of the 2008 National Urban Design Award.

• Mole Hill – an urban housing project in downtown Vancouver that includes a community garden and a green laneway behind the houses planted with a variety of edible plants. (Bakker / S.R. Mcewen / Durante Kreuk Ltd.).

• South East False Creek area in Vancouver – an entire section of Vancouver, the site of the 2010 Olympic Village, which includes plans for integrating urban agriculture (Holland Barrs Planning Group).


The curators for this exhibition will be Mark Gorgolewski and June Komisar from the Department of Architectural Science and Joe Nasr from the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University. The project is attracting considerable interest from groups interested in food security and design issues in Canada, several of whom are expected to support the development and mounting of this exhibition.


This ground-floor exhibition at the DX opens to the public on February 25, 2009 with no admission fees, and will officially launch with an opening reception on March, 2009. The exhibition will close April 30. A curatorial lecture will also be offered in conjunction with this exhibition.


For more information, please contact Claudine Crangle, Director of Marketing, Sponsorship & Public Relations at 416.216.2134 or at