Bridging interdisciplinary knowledge for sustainable urban landscapes: results from the international student competition UrbanFarm2019

F. Orsini, G. Pennisi, A. D'Alessandro, D. Kratochvilova, G. Steffan, M. Paoletti, G. Sabbatini, M. D'Ostuni, A. Trombadore, G. Gianquinto
In a rapidly urbanizing world, urban agriculture (UA) represents an opportunity for improving food supply, health conditions, local economy, social integration, and environmental sustainability altogether. While a diversity of farming systems is encountered in the different world regions, it is estimated that about a third of urban dwellers is involved worldwide in the agro-food sector. In recent times, UA projects have sprouted across the world, both guided and promoted by governments and born by bottom-up community based initiatives. Accordingly, the concept of edible urban landscapes (edible cities, foodscapes) is today finding application all over the world. In order to facilitate a wider uptake of innovative policies and tools for the promotion of the sustainable goals associated with UA, it is crucial to create awareness on both institutional actors and the civil society through innovative and interdisciplinary approaches. The international student challenge UrbanFarm2019 aimed at tackling the current need for cooperation between different disciplines by bringing together students from different fields of study into international teams addressing the regeneration of three vacant urban spaces in Italy. The chosen locations included a former agricultural farm absorbed by the urban sprawl, a factory of domestic appliances that moved production abroad and a primary school in the Alps that was closed due to ageing of the local population. The three locations shared their current vacant status and the fact that they all constitute a cost and a missed opportunity for their cities. The UrbanFarm2019 challenge aimed at showing that another use for these spaces is possible, overall contributing to creating cities that are more attractive, livable, inclusive, and sustainable. To reach this target, young minds from all over the world were engaged in international and interdisciplinary teams. The challenge became an opportunity to link viewpoints and approaches while integrating state-of-the-art technologies and design for urban farming and urban planning. Innovative ideas, visions and approaches were brought together by teams of students with enthusiasm and dedication. Starting from these project ideas, local administrators and urban planners will have tools to foster sustainability in their cities. Beyond the elevation of project quality, the major achievement of the UrbanFarm competition stands upon the geographical distribution and expertise covered by the participating teams. The UrbanFarm international student challenge, achieved to engage a network of experts and UA practitioners from universities from all over the world in the evaluation of 35 projects prepared by teams involving more than 130 students. Looking at the projects, it clearly appears how competences were successfully integrated and communicated in both project redaction and visual materials.
Orsini, F., Pennisi, G., D'Alessandro, A., Kratochvilova, D., Steffan, G., Paoletti, M., Sabbatini, G., D'Ostuni, M., Trombadore, A. and Gianquinto, G. (2020). Bridging interdisciplinary knowledge for sustainable urban landscapes: results from the international student competition UrbanFarm2019. Acta Hortic. 1298, 97-106
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1298.15
problem-based learning, team work, landscape architecture, urban horticulture

Acta Horticulturae