Extracting Urban Food Potential: design-based methods for digital and bodily cartography
Sweden’s recent report on Urban Sustainable Development calls out a missing link between the urban design process and citizens. This paper investigates if engaging citizens as design agents by providing a platform for alternate participation can bridge this gap, through the transfer of spatial agency and new modes of critical cartography. To assess whether this is the case, the approaches are applied to Stockholm’s urban agriculture movement in a staged intervention. The aim of the intervention was to engage citizens in locating existing and potential places for growing food and in gathering information from these sites to inform design in urban agriculture. The design-based methodologies incorporated digital and bodily interfaces for this cartography to take place. The Urban CoMapper, a smartphone digital app, captured real-time perspectives through crowd-sourced mapping. In bodily cartography, participants used their bodies to trace the site and reveal their sensorial perceptions. The data gathered from these approaches gave way to a mode of artistic research for exploring urban agriculture, along with inviting artists to be engaged in the dialogues. In sum, results showed that a combination of digital and bodily approaches was necessary for a critical cartography if we want to engage citizens holistically into the urban design process as spatial agents informing urban policy. Such methodologies formed a reflective interrogation and encouraged a new intimacy with nature; in this instance, one that can transform our urban conduct by questioning our eating habits: where we get our food from and how we eat it seasonally.