Rethinking Foodscapes for our Future Cities

by Gensler

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting the already fragile food supply chains across the world. The fact is, cities can only be resilient if they have resilient food systems, yet, traditional food distribution networks weren’t built for livable cities. As architects, designers, and urban planners, we believe that it is crucial for us to more deeply examine creative ways to integrate food into building systems at all scales — including on facades, in public spaces, atriums, terraces, interior partition systems, and more, to increase local vegetation production and overall self-sufficiency. In this exhibition, Gensler brings together a series of works from across the globe that explores the different possibilities and scales to intertwine our food systems into the built environment.

Feeding the Future

Feeding the Future forecasts the role that urban agriculture will play as an integrated partner to the building industry. We believe that with food security becoming one of the biggest challenges of this decade, food systems will need to be entwined with our built environment in order to sustain the continued urbanization of our planet. To start off with we have identified 16 potential intervention case points across the public, building and interior scales. Multidisciplinary solutions across scale and ownership patterns will play a key role increase awareness on urban farming as well as health and wellness in the built environment.


01 - Resilient Cities Rely on Resilient Food Systems 02 - A Brief Timeline of Singapore’s Agricultural Journey 03 - Laying out the opportunities in our built environment 04 - How, and what can we grow in our climate? 05 - Framing the research matrix

Relish Works (5 Astro Cities)

Customers of Gordon Food Service (GFS), a market leader in food distribution in rural and suburban America, are moving to city centers and they will need a new kind of food network. Leadership at GFS needed a tool to inspire their teams to see this new market and the challenges of climate change as opportunities for innovation and growth.

Research by their Relish Works division confirmed that the largest opportunities for GFS will be in cities and lead them to develop a concept for a comprehensive circular distribution system, one that includes every step from food source through cold-chain delivery and treats waste as a nutrient. Gensler partnered with them to envision this future, how food distribution systems will adapt to these urban environments and create a short film to share this vision with their teams and inspire them to action.


01 - Traditional food distribution networks weren’t built for livable cities 02 - Assessing Weaknesses and Opportunities 03 - A circular Framework for Re-Imagining the Urban Food Economy 04 - Self-Healing Distribution System 05 - Creating the Future City Digitally

Watch the project video here

Urban Farmification: Big Box Underground

In the United States where large areas of farmland are lost to hyper-urbanization, instead of looking at land as an unlimited resource bounded only by location and price per square foot, we need to drastically change the way we develop, design and build. The research looked at the integration of underground architecture and rooftop farming as a new typology that builds resilience in the system and bring together communities.

Located in the United states, the research project started by exploring the opportunities and realities of submerging big box retail centers to support rooftop farming. Big box retail centers are demonstrably ripe for this process: they have large roofs, generally do not have windows, and are ubiquitous across the United States. The first big boxes, Walmart, KMart, and Target, opened in 1962 on a promise of mass production and efficiency. For this property type, we need to rethink a sustainable and inclusive integration into the surrounding community.


01 - What does urbanization and agricultural coexistence look like? 02 - Site Systems: Landscape Strategy & Patterning Agriculture 03 - Creating Communities 04 - Understanding Climate Farming Cycles

Gensler Costa Rica

Gensler Costa Rica has leveraged the diversity and energy of its employees to create an office space that breaks the mold and functions holistically. In the heart of Avenida Escazú—in the midst of buildings, concrete and traffic, 7 floors up—Gensler’s employees are tending to the office’s organic garden, turning food waste into fertilizer, saving energy and water, and promoting the well-being of all its employees and visitors.


01 - In a functional ecosystem nothing is waste, everything is a resource 02 - Turning Waste into Fertilizer 03 - Understanding Timelines and Cycles 04 - Reduction in Water Usage 05 - Cyclical Ecosystems in our Office Space

Find out more about Gensler here