Can Waste and Food Production Be Managed for a City Block?

Phototrophic Architecture proposes an entirely new urban food typology, which combines community kitchens, food growth, waste management, and a grocery store sized to an urban block. Phototrophic Architecture derives its name from photosynthetic organisms - that is, an organism that is able to generate its own food from light.  This new typology proposes this analogy as a new way of building, maximizing grown materials and serving as a digestive organism for the city block.

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In developing this project, we first analyzed the existing food system, exposing that key waste areas lie not in transportation, but in processing, warehouses, and personal kitchens.

Learning from this study, we proposed an alternative to current food production, purchasing, and eating methods. Instead of designing a building in response at first, we developed a system, which balanced inputs and outputs based on the requirements of a single urban block.

As a result, through the development of the system and our study of the energy in food production as it currently exists, we proposed a building typology that replaced individual kitchens with shared ones in the middle of an urban block, joined by aquaponics, a restaurant, and grocery store. The building functioned like an organism, taking in waste from the block and generating energy and food in return. It also brought the neighborhood together to share recipes, buy and grow food, and eat together, returning food to the center of an urban culture.