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Call for paper abstracts: Urban Design for Food Systems

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Special issue of Urban Design International
on Urban Design for Food Systems

June Komisar and Joe Nasr, issue editors

Recently the food system has been acknowledged to be a basic urban system, overturning earlier assumptions that this is a largely rural system of flows managed by local, national, and global actors through agricultural policy and expertise. The role of cities as a key locus of action is fundamental for understanding and intervening in the food system. A range of thinkers and actors have become increasingly concerned about the stability of the food supply to their cities and the secure access of its citizens to adequate nourishment.  The interactions between food systems and other basic urban systems are also becoming more evident and better understood.  As a result, disciplines that deal with urban design have started to recognize that they can and should play a wide range of roles in shaping the urban food system, particularly by addressing its connections to the material environments on which they normally work: the home, the workplace, the street, the public space, and the public institution.

The focus of this special issue of Urban Design International is thus the food system, recognizing that this is a key component of the urban environment – both built and unbuilt – which is shaped by many actors and structural factors.  The reference to food systems in the theme for this issue points to the role of design in relation to many aspects of the place of food within the urban context.  Furthermore, a number of publications as well as projects have shone a light in the past decade on the role of design relative to urban agriculture; the focus on the food system approach enables the inclusion in this issue of articles on a range of topics across the food system, from growing, to processing, distributing, marketing, and managing the waste stream.  The shaping of the urban environment through the integration of many disciplines, from landscape design to transportation planning, includes the food system as a key component; contributors from across disciplines are encouraged to submit papers.

We are particularly interested in papers that deal with multiple aspects of food systems, and how they interface with each other and other aspects of the urban realm. .  Bringing a systems approach to looking at food and connecting to urban design is at the core of this issue.  Adopting a food systems approach can orient the paper to the ways in which food systems relate to other urban systems; it also highlights the importance of scale – the focus is not on buildings and their components, but rather on a food system approach to community, neighborhood, the city, or even the region.  In addition, the focus here is on urban design, not policy; the capacity to shape the city as a physical space and the material needs related to the manifestation of the food system in the urban realm is central to our interests here.

Examples of areas on which papers can be submitted may include:

  • Typologies of designing for food system components
  • Food systems as part of a participatory design process
  • Integration of food-focused facilities in adaptive reuse strategies
  • Food hubs as catalysts for community development
  • Public green spaces as productive spaces
  • Productive landscape approaches
  • Designing for urban agriculture
  • Community composting and other forms of integrating waste management in the city
  • Reconceiving schools and other educational facilities as food knowledge centres

The issue will include around five papers (up to a maximum of seven), depending on length, with a maximum of 8,000 words.  For more information on submission to this journal, please see:

Abstracts are due by 12 April 2017 to the guest editors for this special issue, June Komisar and Joe Nasr, at and  Maximum abstract length: 500 words. Please include a one-paragraph biography of each author with the abstract.