The Landscape Urbanism Programme was invited to put together an exhibition as part of the Oxford Real Farming Conference that took place in Oxford on the 4th and 5th of January. The exhibition shown under the title Architecture and Agriculture included 5 projects from the AA Landscape Urbanism Postgraduate programme which has been developing research in Agroecology and how it can shape processes of urbanisation in the UK.
This is the intro to the exhibition and some of the panels that were part of the exhibition:
AA INTRODUCTION STORY
We must imagine what a profound agricultural transition looks like in practice to formulate a collective position advocating for radical farming policy reforms. In order to do this, we present captivating images developed as part of dialogues between postgraduate students in the Landscape Urbanism Masters’ programme at the Architectural Association (AA) and a diverse range of UK farming voices. But what is the AA and what interest do architects have in farming? The AA was established in 1847. It is the oldest independent school of architecture in the UK, committed to producing and disseminating ideas that challenge and advance the design of contemporary culture, cities and the environment. It constantly and fearlessly looks into the future.
What is the Landscape Urbanism Masters programme’s mission? To scrutinize consequential landscapes, produced as a result of urban age mentalities, settler industrial agriculture and the capitalist-imperialist flows behind the climate crisis. At its core sit the questions:
How can we translate and visualise written policies and the spatial consequences they create? What do the ways landscapes look like tell us and what lies beneath their projected green imagery or discourses? How do policies and infrastructure shape landscapes which in turn shape ecologies, labour and people? Departing from the landscape tradition, how can we conjure visions of collective alternative imaginaries and transformative farming visions? How can landscape-oriented designers be involved in agricultural policymaking?
Our key driver is to engage in unique and meaningful talks with a range of organizations, collective agrarian movements, individuals and farmers. Listening to these voices, along with our students we have built some collaborative imagery and common investigative threads across the a range of agricultural policy. These address issues of land justice and reforms, county farms, agriculture data politics, soil cultures, communing knowledge, spatial land-use tools, institutions, food systems approach, food sovereignty, natural materials, critical carbon credits, intensive agroecology models, MiFAS, community forestry, land-sharing rewilding, local renewable energy, green belts and urban farming, One Planet Development and more.
We adopt a multiscalar perspective spanning from global maps and offsets to farm models such as Wakelyns and the Apricot Centre, to Welsh policies, via hydrological basin approaches, county-level networks and intensive greenbelt strategies. We have even extended our gaze to the soil microbiome. We use cartographies, sections, pathway diagrams and images to visualise current contemporary agro-industrial consequences and envision critical alternatives.
We strongly believe landscape-oriented designers, equipped with their spatial and visual skills, can be instrumental in envisioning and imagining transitions towards agroecology. This can support advocacy movements for policy change and nurture new inclusive forms of knowledge and sharing platforms. Through this collection of visions, we intend to invite individuals and organisations to strike up a conversation with us towards alternative farming futures.