Researcher for future buildings and cities
Food City Research
February - June 2011

What if a city of 1.000.000 inhabitants could provide itself with all the food necessary for its inhabitants? What if there is no import and export of food? What processes related to food production should then be located in the city?

Why a Food City?

  • 925 million people are undernourished and about 24.000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes.
  • One person needs 2700 kcal a day, however 3470 kcal are consumed. The average obesity rate in Europe is 20-30%.
  • One third of the food is wasted. This comes down to 332.000.000 kg per year that is thrown away.
  • 69.6% of the world import and 69.4% of the world export is related to food.
  • Food transport pollution is estimated at 19 million tonnes a year.
  • About 40% of the world's agricultural land is seriously degraded.
  • 75 km2 of the tropical forest is destructed each day, mostly replaced by agriculture to feed cattle.
  • 109 Km3 of water is used each year for agricultural land.
  • 12.142.200 kg/ha of fertilizers and 1.196.874 kg/ha of pesticides are used each year.
The average European diet

The average European consumes about 996 kg of food and drinks. Research on the European diet gives us the opportunity to calculate the amount of surface the food city needs to grow food for 1.000.000 inhabitants. By researching future developments of the European diet we can imagine the necessary requirements the city will have concerning grow surfaces, factories and transport.
European average diet: food consumption of one person in one year
The hidden structure of the food city
The hidden structure

The hidden structure scheme contains information on field, factory and city surfaces needed for the Food City, but more importantly it shows the way food travels from one production stage to another. Also the amount of water and waste are important in the production process and are therefore shown in the scheme. The scheme contains the ratios between the surfaces and water, food and waste produced, and all the data for a Food City of 1.000.000 inhabitants. The scheme visualizes what happens with the food in the Food City and is used by the designers as a program of requirements.


An important aspect of the food cycle for the design of a food city are innovations concerning food growth, processing, transport and consumption. Just think of new technologies enabling us to grow food at much smaller surfaces and in artificial spaces. Applying these technologies in our food city gives us the opportunity to grow food at places we could not have foreseen a while ago. But also our food consumption changes. Packaging innovations during the last centuries gave us the option to keep food fresh for a longer time. This changed our diet and the items we shop for. The research on innovations gave the food city project interesting discussions on what the future food industry could look like and how the city could be designed around this.

Waste cycle

The amount of human faeces is about 10 kg/person/year. During food harvesting, processing and cooking in your own kitchen about 99% of the food (or organic material that comes with it) is wasted. In the food city, since it should be a selfsufficient city, that organic waste should be treated to become fertilizer. The waste cycle is part of the hidden structure.

The Nutrient Cycle contains the cycle of three soil elements: Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P), and Nitrogen (N). Those elements are usually important ingredients of fertilizers because they are a supplement for natural soil and a complement for the nutrients lost by the removal of plants.

City design

These research results of the food city project are a direct input in the various food city designs that could be made. Especially the amount of agricultural surface necessary for a city of 1 million inhabitants is an important factor in the design of the city. With these research results I designed the Biological City.

European average diet
Innovations related to food production, transport and consumption
Nutrient cycle

See more of my research and projects on the food city topic: