Edible Museum

by C. Aparnaa


Cities are economic machines that create opportunities for people to earn a living. The increased urbanization expropriates the agriculture intensive land in the city’s periphery and shifts the food production and distribution systems further from the city. This exacerbates the demand for food production, food miles and concomitant obliviousness of the relation between humans and their environment.

Furthermore, the landscapes within the city contribute to this issue as well. Widely regarded as ‘The Green City’ because of its monumental landscapes, the city of Gandhinagar consists of landscaped areas like the central vista and the block/sector street edges that aren’t being utilized to their full potential, overlooking their socio-ecological aspects. The wide streets are incoherent with all the user groups, which further makes the edges remote and the function of these landscaped areas dials down to aesthetics and in some cases, just for carbon sequestration. This calls for a reappraisal of how landscapes can be productive within cities.

Edible Streetscapes

The vision for the city of Gandhinagar is Edible Streetscapes. Why streetscapes?

The city is renowned for its wide green streets. However, understanding the streets in Gandhinagar brings to light that many are not developed, the edges are under-utilised or not utilised at all. In ROW, only carriage way is constructed and large swaths of land on the side are un-programmed. Thus it makes the edge undefined, inaccessible, and loose.

Existing Site Conditions

Further, the food miles have already disconnected people from growing food and the project questions if food can be made visible and integrated with urban landscape especially on corridors and central vista. It can have multiple benefits – can provide space for citizen to actively participate, can bring trees and vegetation in public domain, and give people access to growing and foraging for food, can sequester carbon, it could repurpose swaths of vacant land into edible spaces, mitigate stormwater run-off, as well as support other species such as birds, bees, butterflies etc.

Vision Plan 2030
Vision Plan for Gandhinagar: Edible Streetscapes

So at XL scale the strategy looks at re-designing the ROW to support functions such as: cycle tracks, parking areas, carriageways and service lanes for vehicular movement, continuous pedestrian infrastructure on edges and along with swales and tree cover for the citizens to access and engage with these grow patches (for food or trees).

The central axis with ROW of 100 mts in front of Vidhan Sabha and 150m of the Central Vista will incorporate foraging and edible landscapes supported by social programs for the city and will be maintained by municipality.

The ROW encompassing the city and that is adjoining the industrial zone will be planted with ever-green trees with large canopy that can trap PM particles to improve overall air quality.

The ROW of 65 mts and and 45 mts primary streets of the city will have gardens for allotments which can be leased and maintained by the residents.

Redistribution of street spaces and functions for various RoWs

To achieve this – the project redesigns the different ROW’s to incorporate various functions.

The different spatial divisions include: Continuous footpath, service lanes for ROW > 85 mts, parking areas, bicycling track, and swales with grow patches (for food or trees) and for ROW >45 and <85, the same spatial divisions except service lanes are allocated.

Catalogue for Swales on Streets

The swale patches can include easement gardens, herb gardens, pollinator gardens, vegetable patches, or fruit gardens and evergreen trees with large canopy for shade and carbon sequestration. The type of swale would be coherent with the immediate context in terms of land use and functions of spaces.

Catalogue for Vacant Lands & Central Vista

The XL plan also identifies vacant public lands of the city adjoining the street to be programmed for food storage, seed banks, training centres etc and along with the central 100m wide patch of Central Vista for large scale programs like orchards, urban forests and urban agricultural activities.

L Scale Design for Central Vista

The Central Vista extends the theme of edible street as a visible and programmed landscape to showcase diversity of plant, fruit and tree species naturalised to this context and climate.

Why Edible Museum? The absence or inaccessible nature of landscapes in the city calls for a reappraisal of the ways in which one engages with these landscapes. The project started with the questions (as detailed out on sheet).

Sensorial Aspects of Edible Museum

It is through the activation of the different human senses through which one engages with these socio-ecological programs. It is envisioned as a space composed of different varieties that make visible smells, sounds, colours and textures through the programming of species. The vista also incorporates other functions such as seating, plaza, cafes in the midst of farms and forests. The Central Vista exhibits these programs and functions like a museum exhibit the artefacts, only here the species are the artefacts.

Armature Development
Edible Museum Design Plan: The Galleries
Part Plan 1
Part Plan 2
Socio-Ecological Programs

The central public spaces accommodate markets and eateries where what has been cultivated in the galleries can be bought. Intermediate seating spaces, performance and play areas, picnic spots, viewing decks, pavilions, amphitheatre, greenhouses, farming plots and orchards are proposed in the galleries for actively engaging with the edible landscapes.

Various experiences throughout the Central Corridor

There are variations in the experiences either through the variation or similarity in colours on both sides, a difference in height, variation in social and ecological programs and a multitude of species, be it flora or fauna that one is subjected to as one walks through the central corridor.

Artefacts: Planting Palette for the Galleries

Each of the rooms in the specific galleries have a set of socio-ecological programs. These ecological programs have a preliminary set of species and based on the gallery type, the species are planted. For instance, the Yellow Gallery will house species like corn, bajra, amaltas tree, sunflowers and marigolds.

Timescales of Dynamism in the Edible Museum

As one walks through the various corridors or pauses in the central public spaces to engage with the artefacts, they experience the dynamism of these edible landscapes at various timescales.

Timescales of Dynamism in the Edible Museum
Timescales of Dynamism in the Edible Museum
The Role of the Central Vista Edible Museum
Aerial view of the Edible Museum

The project thus exhibits the prominence of the Central Vista as the central public space of the city and creates landmarks on various streets with respect to the edible museum. The prominence is attained through a dynamic museum with a mosaic of edible for many landscapes which enhances the socio-ecological relation by actively engaging people with programs proposed while also benefiting economically and ecologically.