Agriculture, as most of us think of it, is a contemporary myth promoted by the food industry, politicians, books for kids and tourist boards. Once stripped of this utterly romanticised image, agriculture reveals the extreme state it is in today: agriculture has long become highly industrialized agro-production with the consequence of disastrous inflexibility, a highly exclusive organisation of production processes and horrendous energy consumption.
In the Netherlands these problems of agro-production are accelerated by a dilemmatic situation: on the one hand the Netherlands produce most agricultural products per land area in the EU and on the other hand they are the most densely populated country in Europe. The resulting enormous pressure on the Dutch landscape causes a new field of research to evolve in the Netherlands concerned with a reorganisation of agriculture in a more and more urbanized environment. This leads to projects like MVRDV’s “Pig City”, Jago van Bergen’s “Kas en Land” project or “Deltapark”, a proposal by the Dutch government which clusters livestock farming, fish farming, greenhouse growing and product processing in one 1km long and 7 storeys tall building and thereby exploits internal energy cycles and saves space. The ambition and concept of Deltapark may seem to be radical in terms of accumulating agroproduction and thereby addressing issues of lack of space and environmental impact, but its organisation remains absolutely conventional by just stacking horizontal agriculture in a vertical manner. Therefore Deltapark, as well as the other projects, would ultimately fail to perform as they are still extremely exclusive and static.
As an alternative attempt the main concern of the postagriculture project is to rethink agroproduction in the Netherlands towards an inclusive and responsive organisation which is essential for an environmentally and socially sustainable food production. In order to enable agriculture to transform itself into a highly integrated, mutable and vital urban programme an inclusive strategy is set up and tested as a tactical insertion on the regional scale of Westland. Being the biggest and most productive Dutch greenhouse growing area allocated in direct adjacency to the metropolitan areas of Rotterdam and The Hague, Westland is a regional focal point of the pressure on the Dutch landscape emerging on the national scale. Therefore the strategy promotes the further intensification of the already existing agricultural production within close proximity to densely populated cities hybridised with a public recreation domain. This hybridisation becomes pressure responsive by a field of inter-systemic negotiations evolved from the investigation of specific intra-systemic conditions of agricultural production and recreation activities. Shifting from an exclusive and static unit based organisation towards a model of multiple provisional conditions promotes an inclusive organisation of open systems, mutable inter-systemic relations and time based occupation which is responsive to differential demand for agricultural products and changing need for recreation areas.
The project deploys a layered pneumatic structure in order to facilitate the differentiated microenvironments that are essential for the alternative organisational model to become operative. The orientation, distribution, density and articulation of the structural components as well as the type and treatment of the surface material regulate light, temperature and smell conditions over time. A combined digital form-finding, structural analysis and cutting-pattern-deriving software enabled the design of the multi-layered pneumatic landscape and thereby allowed to articulate varied and dynamic micro-climatic conditions that suit agro-production and leisure activities in each sub-location of the deep structure. In-between these hard-modulated areas emerging from the interrelation of structural and climatic requirements evolves a gradient field of negotiable soft-modulated zones. This constitutes a shift from an exclusive and static unit-based architecture to a mutable, performative condition-based environment that carries the capacity to be a vital urban programme and a sustainable production landscape at the same time.
Kmetijstvo, na način, kakor danes o njem razmišljamo, je sodoben mit, ki ga promovirajo prehrambena industrija, politiki, otroške knjige in turistične organizacije. Ko enkrat razgalimo to romantično podobo, nam kmetijstvo razkrije ekstremen položaj, v katerem se danes nahaja: kmetijstvo je že davno postalo visoko industrializirana agro-proizvodnja s posledično katastrofalno neprilagodljivostjo, visoko ekskluzivno organizacijo proizvodnih procesov in neverjetno potrošnjo energije. Na Nizozemskem probleme agro-proizvodnje še pospešujejo specifične dileme: po eni strani Nizozemska proizvaja največ kmetijskih proizvodov na površino zemljišča v EU, po drugi strani pa je tudi najgosteje naseljena dežela v Evropi. Posledično izjemen pritisk na Nizozemsko krajino sproža novo polje raziskav, do katerih naj bi prišlo na Nizozemskem in se ukvarjajo z reorganizacijo kmetijstva v vse bolj urbaniziranem okolju.