Systems of Sustenance//Joshua Carel
A Re-Imagining of Seattle’s Regional Food and Food Waste Infrastructure
Cities around the world are facing converging challenges in addressing the resource needs of growing populations while simultaneously decreasing their environmental impact. This is especially true with food. In Seattle, a city expected to see 30% growth in the next 25 years, food accounts for roughly half of the average citizen’s ecological footprint.
The responses of farmer’s markets, food hubs and municipal compost, have thus far been ineffective at adequately addressing this challenge. Regional food only realizes a small portion of its potential percentage of the urban market; municipal compost currently relies heavily on fossil-fuel transportation practices to inequitably distribute waste to surrounding communities. These shortcomings are results of inadequate relationships between the components of the regional food system and the city, and non-existent relationships between the components themselves.
This thesis posits that a reorganization of the programs through which resources are transferred between regional farms and the city is needed if the appropriate patterns of urban consumption are to be scaled-up in an environmentally-responsive, equitable way. The ensuing project seeks to indicate the new forms of urban infrastructure required to enable such a reorganization, and in doing so, design a new system that simplifies that interface between Seattle and it’s regional farms. In designing this system, three strategies were prioritized: understand and implement the appropriate scale of components as they relate to both the city and regional farms; formulate mutually-beneficial conglomerates of system components in order to realize efficiencies that are unattainable otherwise; and capitalize upon existing infrastructure and analogous circumstances within the city that can potentially catalyze the effective distribution of food and waste throughout the system.
The project proposes the implementation of a network that couples regional food/waste conglomerates with the stations of Seattle’s Link Light Rail, allowing for the fluid transfer of resources within the city. The components of the conglomerates are dependent on their location within the system and site allowances. The conglomerate program proposed for the U-District Light Rail Station has been designed in detail in order to investigate the challenges and possibilities associated with inserting these new programs within the city. The project combines compost processing, food distribution, and market programs with the future light rail station.