NTU Architecture Subject Group

Atelier 1

Food & Community

‘Sitopia’ (or food-place from the Greek sitos, food + topos, place)

Food shapes every aspect of our lives from our bodies to our homes, to the cities and the world we live in. It not only affects the tangible aspects of our lives but also the intangible – our cultures & traditions, our society & economy, our values & rituals as well as how we think & ultimately feel about ourselves and the world around us. Carolyn Steel, an Architect & Researcher decided to name this phenomenon ‘Sitopia’ (Steel, 2008).

Carolyn Steel (2020) argues that we can’t live in ‘Utopia’ (meaning a perfect world) but that we could get close to this if we followed Sitopian ideals, using food as our guide. Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could tackle the current food crisis? Millions of people are struggling to feed themselves & their families. This has been escalated recently due to the pandemic, climate change and conflict - the war in Ukraine has increased the cost of food, fuel, and fertilizers (Global food crisis | World Food Programme, 2022). Society, the environment, politics, and the economy all play a part in shaping food and the world we live in.

This Atelier explored how:

  • Food shapes the places we live
  • How food brings communities together
  • How food is a powerful tool for changing lives
  • Food can improve both the body and the mind of individuals and the wider population
  • How food can help to create a convivial city and sustainable future (Parham, 2015)
  • How Sitopian ideas might influence the making of architecture

The Project

The challenge was to design a civic ‘FOOD-PLACE’ for the future of Nottingham using Sitopian ideals. This applied to every aspect of the design including the function of the building, as well as the materials it is made from for example.

The ‘food-place’ took many forms, but ‘food’ and ‘place’ played a central role. ‘Food-place’ was understood and explored in its broadest sense and focused on food insecurities, the buying & selling of food, food production, gastronomy, culture/traditions/rituals of food or/and health & wellbeing etc for example.

The ‘food-place’ is likely to combine multiple functions which may or may not be interrelated with one another. Students were allowed to combine a food typology with something not usually associated with food to create an interesting juxtaposition.

Some ended up designing a market, cooking school, soup kitchen, brewery, bakery, vertical farm, banqueting hall, winery, food research centre or a combination of the above or a new food typology.

The readings, the site, the students’ research and concept dictated the functional requirements of the ‘food-place’.

Lead Tutors
Holly Mills / Ben Harris-Hutton & Angel Moreno
Support Tutors
Angeliki Sakellariou & Bernadette Devilat – Architecture in Context 3
Steve Riley & David Bowden – Tech. And Environment in Arch. 3
Guest Reviewers
Sheleendra Fernando, Marta Lopez & Gavin Richards