Dublin, Ireland


‘Food for Thought’ puts forward the vision of urban farming as a tool for architectural, social, and economic transformation. The evacuation tunnel, once ignored by the city, is activated by a landscape which produces, celebrates, and showcases the connection between us and what we eat.

The scheme’s design centers on a hexagonal module, replicating to form an arched “tunnel within a tunnel”. Constructed either by hand or machine, the 3D-printed hexagonal modules become the skeleton structure for a radical, forward-looking urban farming initiative.

Following extensive research into the future of food, a circular system has been designed to focus on three food groups predicted to become prevalent in our future diets: aquaponics, algae, and insects. These three groups, with unique and specific inputs and outputs, can in fact thrive on the flow of waste and materials between them, while also using waste generated by surrounding retail and residential buildings. The output: a healthy, varied diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and supplements, as well as a variety of off-shooting industries, from biofuel to medicine.

This highly refined, mechanized, technical system manifests as a “garden of delight” for the citizen and visitor. The 5-meter-wide passageway, which allows the tunnel to continue in its essential evacuation format, is transformed into a new labyrinth of nature. Walking through the tunnel, the user transitions from the gentle play of the fish, and the aroma of fruits, to the eclectic glow of algae, and the lively buzzing of insects. Throughout, a new flooring system allows for controlled light, benches for meditation and lounging, and interactive screens that educate people about the food processes taking place around them.

This renovation, which feeds off the existing infrastructure of the tunnel and surroundings, does not involve any demolition or alterations to the tunnel. In-keeping with its flexible ethos, the system can be easily dismantled, extended, or adapted to incorporate new food groups as demands (and tastes) change. Its influence extends even further beyond the tunnels, with the three plazas at the entrance to the tunnels now transformed into places of exchange, innovation, and the production of off-shoot industries. More than an architectural intervention, this proposal is therefore a catalyst for a new economy; and a new vision of using architecture as a vehicle for social and economic transformation.

While Food for Thought is one proposal for one site, it speaks to a global shift in attitudes and thinking towards how we eat, and how we use cities. Around the world, labyrinths of disused tunnels, warehouses, factories, and mines lay vacant; relics of bygone industries and infrastructures. As the planet’s resources and arable farmlands dwindle, we must re-evaluate not only how we produce food for growing populations, but how urban food production can be a catalyst for something greater.

This blend of architecture, biology, and agriculture, working in harmony to create awe-inspiring urban experiences, can transform not only how our cities look, but how we eat, how we think, and how we live.