Soilless Urban Temporary Agriculture as a Strategy for Brownfield Site Renewal

  • Leonardo Boganini
  • Chiara CasazzaEmail author
Conference paper


The last few years have witnessed the development of a large number of projects, in the fields of planning and architecture, that aim to integrate food production in urban spaces. This practice goes under the name of Urban Agriculture and it is spreading ito many cities because it carries benefits and implications toward urban sustainability (environmental, economic, social and institutional). The paper aims to describe an ongoing research project, Ur.C.A. is an in progress research project, financed by Regione Toscana, and develop by the Interuniversity Centre and the DISPAA Department of the University of Florence, in partnership with two local enterprises: Azienda Agricola Cammelli and Azienda Agricola Artemisia.

Ur.C.A. aims to identify the possibilities and the potential of integrating agriculture in urban settlements, especially in brownfield sites and marginal areas, taking advantage of hydroponic technologies. The integration of agricultural activities in urban areas meets the requirements of consciousness toward food, reducing the gap between production and consumptions, and of alternative sustainable km0 alimentary production chains. Furthermore urban agriculture improves shared public spaces and social and recreational activities.

Brownfield sites and temporary unused areas can be, through urban agriculture, regenerated in terms of space quality, also providing them of new functions and a new role.

The project general objective is to analyze the possibilities of the requalification of the above mentioned urban contexts, through urban agriculture, focusing on legislative and technological feasibility. Ur.C.A. aims to develop an innovative use for brownfield sites that, through the integration of food production, can enhance social innovation, citizens awareness toward environment, health, and diet, social participation, and furthermore can stimulate an urban km0 production and consequentially new small scale local economies and green jobs.

Ur.C.A specific objective is to identify an innovative hydroponic growth cell system, suitable for urban contexts in terms of design, technology and sustainability, which would integrate renewable energy resources and rain water collection. The new concepts of growth cell will be especially suitable for urban unused areas: indeed in our towns can be found several spaces that remain temporary, but generally for a long period, unused as “frozen” waiting for new projects to be approved and completed. The Ur.C.A. growth cell, conceived as light, transportable, modular, nearly zero environmentally impacting, and energy efficient, can become a device useful to quickly, but also temporary, requalifying the mentioned areas.


Urban agriculture Urban regeneration Integration Soilless technologies Brownfield sites 


  1. 1.
    Despommier DI (2013) Farming up the city: the rise of urban vertical farm. Trends Biotechnol 31(7):388–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gorgolewski MA, Komisar JU, Narsr JO (2011) Carrot city: creating places for urban agriculture. Monacelli Press, New York, p 240Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kaufman JE. Bailkey MA (2000) Farming inside cities: entrepreneurial urban agriculture in the United States, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working PaperGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Palazzo VA (2003) Tecnologie ambientali per l’integrazione di verde agricolo in aree urbane. Tesi di Dottorato, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico IIGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Pothukuchi KA, Kauffman JE (1999) Placing the food system on the urban agenda: the role of municipal institutions in food systems planning. Agric Hum Values 16:212–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Viljoen AN (2005) Continuous productive urban landscapes: designing urban agriculture for sustainable cities. Elesevier Architectural Press, Oxford, p 304Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Smit J, Nasr J (1992) Urban agriculture for sustainable cities: using wastes and idle land and water bodies as resources. Environ Urban 4(2):141–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mougeot LJA (2000) Urban agriculture: definition, presence, potentials and risks. Thematic paper 1 international conference on growing cities growing food: Urban Agriculture on the Policy Agenda La Habana Cuba, Oct 1999Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Philips A (2013) Designing urban agriculture: a complete guide to the planning, design, construction, maintenance and management of edible landscapes. Wiley, Hoboken, p 288Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Butler L, Monorek DM (2002) Urban agriculture and agricultural communities opportunities for common ground. Ames Council on Agriculture Science and TechnologyGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Astee LY, Kishnani NT (2010) Building integrated agriculture: utilising rooftops for sustainable food crop cultivation in Singapore. J Green Build 5(2):105–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Boganini L, Carta A, Casazza C, Sala MG (2013) The urban agriculture: a classification of possibilities. ICFEEB conference, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tjeerd Deelstra Herbert Girardet Urban Agriculture and Sustainable cities. In Aesop 2nd European Sustainable Food Planning Conference, Urban Performance Group, University of BrightonGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lee-Smith D (2009) Integrating urban agriculture in the urban landscape. In RUAF Urban Agriculture Magazine 25Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lee-Smith D (2009) Carrot city: design for urban agriculture. In RUAF Urban Agriculture Magazine 22Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Sommariva E (2012) Agricoltura Urbana strategie per la città dopo la crisi. Atti XV conferenza Nazionale Società Italiana Urbanisti-L’urbanistica che cambia rischi e valori Pescara 10–11 maggio 2012Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 International License (, which permits any noncommercial use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this chapter are included in the chapter's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Architettura DIDACentro ABITA, Università degli Studi di FirenzeFlorenceItaly

Personalised recommendations