From Smartcity to the Food Parliament: an investigation into the urban consequences of food transparency by Chwen Jeng Lim

* Click on the red time stamps to go to each segment

Examination Panel: Kelly Shannon, Stephen Neille, John Tuomey.

00:10 Chair introduces examination process and examiners

01:06 Examination Presentation begins

01:08 Introducing the presentation in five parts: 1. General introduction 2. Smart Cities 3. Food Plus 4. Food Parliament 5. Contribution to Knowledge (structuring) (structuring)

01:35 The Global Food Crisis: climate change - lower production rates - government policy - increasing global population

02:00 How can large scale infrastructure aid food production?

02:30 Unpacking parts 1-4 of the following presentation: context, stakeholders, research questions, the differences between research projects, contributions

04:45 Summarising the research focus: The spatial and phenomenological consequences of applying speculative design to existing conditions. The relevance of urban architecture in obtaining food security and transparency (moment of clarity)

05:20 Introduction to practice: Studio 8 Architecture, CJ Lim as principle designer with 150 projects to date (November 2013) Architecture and Master-planning addressing social; cultural sustainable issues; the relevance of narratives in understanding space, spatial engagement (physical demonstration)

06:50 Delving into the motivations and ways of doing: Publications and objects of the research (physical demonstration)

08:20 Situating amongst practitioners with broad visions of the future: Architectural practitioners believing in the impossible future The eco warriors: the farmer, the storyteller (situating)

09:18 Making reflective practice process explicit: drawing, narrative and devices (methodology)

11:00 Drawing the machine as a comment on or revealing of social and political situations: The influence of Heath Robinson. The styles of drawing as communication

12:50 Begin Part Two: SmartCities

13.00 Understanding what sustainability is: A shift in the office focus

13.15 Establishing relationships between ecology and built form (physical demonstration)

14.20 The utopian city vision in architectural history

15.08 The Six Manifestos of SmartCities: 1. Everything available 2. Systems of perpetual motion concerning food, waste and consumption 3. The productivity of compact housing 4. Beauty as a form of poetic efficiency 5. Bringing fourth the 'eco warrior' 6. The importance of community

18.10 The Paradigm of SmartCities: The combination of food landscape and accommodation

19.00 Problems and Established Solutions of Urban Development and Food production: Combined approaches. Integrated food production and housing for circular economies. Air and Water requirements

23.00 Implementing project model in new locations: Site-specific model adaptation

25.25 Break from work by acknowledging contributors and office (structuring)

26.30 Begin FoodPlus

26.35 Investigating the symbiotic relationship between food and city: Food influencing space, social condition, policies, politics and city operations

26.54 The Nine Chapters of FoodPlus: Food and Business: Food production as empowering people through employment Community and food security in relation to climate change. Food and Culture: the relationship traditions with hunting, gathering, production and natural processes. The organisation of restaurants impacting on cities. Hunting and Food: Natural Processes and food production. Signage and Advertising. Architecture and Food: Tate Modern, Highline, Home Restaurants. Appropriation of space for food and food culture. The movement and transport of food at local to national scales.

39.00 Begins Food Parliament

39.04 A multi-layered infrastructure for London operating on food currency (physical demonstration)

39.50 The transparency of politics and food production as manifest through a new architecture

40.20 The Eighteen Chapters of Food Parliament (runs throughout the following points)

40.45 The Three Pledges of the Food Parliament: 1. Leading the world in food security 2. Facilitate individual engagement at all levels 3. Disseminate a new conception of wealth as food security.

41.35 Design Strategies and possible scenarios: Talking through imagery of design concepts as an engagement and navigation strategy (physical demonstration)

51.00 Begin Contribution to knowledge (contributing)

51.13 The Research Ambition: The ability of the research to influence government policies and understood science relative to food, architecture and urban design. Using design as an engaging medium (informed by statistical data). The use of speculative design in urban planning and architecture (contributing)

51.45 The Five Findings informing the Food Parliament's Contribution to knowledge 1. Food Parliament as regenerative, transformative tool with transparency a necessity of effective discourse 2. Addressing sustainability and transparency at a large scale 3. Symbolism and fictional narrative to return romanticism to urban design 4. Using cartoon and drawing as method of communicating ideas to a boarder audience 5. As a multi-experience endeavour (contributing)

53.42 The role of the 'designer'Designer role as able to envision an alternate reality. Climate change as design issue

55.10 Presentation ends

55.19 Panel Discussion Begins

55.20 (KS) Praise of the document submitted to examiners (structuring)

56.18 (KS) The role of the design practitioner in intervening with politics and policy: Framing inquiry through work viewed in the document

57.30 (KS) Who else features and influences your thinking on relationships you have drawn? Daring to dream the impossible. Who else from our own urban legacy appear in the stories? (situating)

1.00.00 (CJL) The role of the design practitioner in intervening with politics and policy (cont): Using communication as a method of public excitement to effect government and policy. Collaborating to cross disciplinary sectors: sciences, politics, methodology

1.02.35 (CJL) Who else features and influences your thinking on relationships you have drawn? Too broad to gather specific practitioners, rather gathering from everyday situations (situating)

1.04.00 (JT) Drawing as a method or craft seems to stand alone as a separate body to the work.

1.06.00 (CJL) Drawing to visualise, speculate, explore. Drawing style changing over time relative to shifts in the research. Drawing as a method of communication with everyday audiences/public interests. Drawing as process of speculation, conversation etc.

1.10.10 (CJL) The validity of architectural research compared with sciences and mathematics within the institution

1.12.20 (SN) Time, dystopia and otherness of the work: What if things go wrong?

1.14.00 (CJL) The project is a positive provocation for thought process

1.17.05 (SN) The power of the romantic vision

1.17.52 (CJL) Allowing one's own upbringing and influences to come through

1.24.15 (KS) Contradictions of organic and industry, utopia and dystopia, local and global

1.29.30 (SN) John Haydock and proximity to your research

1.33.30 (JT) Thesis as a model of clarity (structuring)

1.39.43 End

View the complete thesis


Over the centuries, there has been an undeniable symbiosis between urbanization and food production. The first part of the research, ‘Food +’ reassesses this relationship in an era of unrelenting urbanism and global food shortage, two interdependent phenomena that must reach a rapprochement to prevent an impending catastrophe that is human as much as environmental. ‘Food +’ consists of a series of investigations in which the extant cultural, legal, educational, medical, financial and employment frameworks of the city are reinterpreted through the medium of food and the spatial implications of how the city is governed. The research culminates in a speculative piece of polemic, the ‘Food Parliament’, a system of architectonic components that operate as a sustainable stratum over London. The discourse follows similar themes of sustainability and transformation of cities initiated in ‘Smartcities’, but looks at how the creation, storage and distribution of food has been and can again become a construct for the practice of everyday life. The Food Parliament, a provocation, is premised on the adoption of food as the local currency standard. Formally unorthodox, the components of the Parliament become metaphors for food immediacy, nutrition, health, job opportunities, green income sources and social cohesion, and simultaneously raise serious questions about the priorities of our governing bodies. Although the Food Parliament is a fantastical construct, the principles that underlie its premise and the justification for its existence, are both real and urgent.

Year: 2013
Examiners: Kelly Shannon, Stephen Neille, John Tuomey  Supervisors: Leon van Schaik, Martyn Hook


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