Consumers are living hyper-locally, growing their own food and
embracing small-scale micro-brands. They are making their urban lives
feel as rural as possible. This is why we call these pioneers Rurban
Turning downtown blocks into villages with a rural feel, these Rurban Revolutionaries are redefining the look and feel of community, culture and consumption.
Luxury brand Mulberry opens a Rurban-inspired flagship store in London featuring a rustic dry stone wall.
began by exploring the things that were close to Mulberry, such as the
Somerset countryside where the factory is,’ Hannah Carter Owens of
Universal Design Studios tells LS:N Global. ‘We looked at local crafts
that could be refined and inserted into the store.’
Key Development: A luxury brand shows its heritage in the big city, bringing rural elements to its flagship store in central London.
environmental organisation Dodo creates the Turn Table – The Urban
Garden city farming project as part of the World Design Capital Helsinki
2012 programme. The project dishes out its home-grown food and planting
tips in a temporary restaurant.
Key Development: At the heart of the Rurban Revolution is a sense of conviviality. This pop-up brought the community together while teaching them life skills.
Italian design duo Antonio Girardi and Cristiana Favretto of studiomobile have created a floating greenhouse designed to grow crops sustainably. The Jellyfish Barge supports life via a hydroponic harvesting method of growing plants in water.
Key Development: Designers are creating sustainable alternatives to traditional methods of growing and harvesting crops.
Nest We Grow by UC Berkeley students and Kengo Kuma & Associates, Japan. Photography by Shinkenchiku-sha
Nest We Grow in Hokkaido, Japan, is an eco-friendly community centre for locals to grow, harvest, store, cook, eat and compost local produce. The roof harvests rainwater and melted snow, which is used to irrigate a living plant wall.
Key Development: Rurban is becoming more entrenched. We are now seeing its principles in architecture with buildings that mimic the self-sustaining farm mindset.
Craft London offers British-only produce, with many of its vegetables grown from its own garden. The restaurant also uses old techniques of preserving vegetables and other ingredients to stick to its seasonal schedule.
Key Development: Rurban developments are popping up in unexpected parts of the city, forcing advocates of the trend to think in new ways.
Fried Finnish reindeer moss with pulverized cep mushrooms at NOMA, Copenhagen. Photography by Mikkel Heriba
Chef René Redzepi has announced that he will be closing famed Danish restaurant Noma in its current iteration at the end of 2016. Redzepi, famous for his foraging tasting menu, wants the restaurant to evolve, which means relocating it to a different area of Copenhagen – now a skate park – and creating a self-sufficient urban farm.
Key Development: Rurban approaches have become more nuanced – Redzepi is taking the principle to its extreme with a city farm that will keep the restaurant ultra-seasonal and local.
In an effort to bring greater awareness to both the food we eat and the wine we drink, winery Cake Wines launched Community Feast, a series of dinners hosted in the community gardens of Sydney. Designed to highlight the communal gardens of the city, as well as the produce they grow, the Community Feast series brought together Sydney’s best chefs with its little known gardeners.
Key Development: The aesthetic surrounding Community Feast, which included an events page with features on the chefs and gardeners, embraced a more subtle sophistication, showing that Rurban no longer necessarily means rustic.
The Parrot Pot uses a watering system that ensures plants don’t dry out and detects when the soil holding the plant is too dry. As well as regulating water, the Pot also has temperature, acidity and light sensors, which through the app tell you whether to alter the heat of the plant, the fertiliser you use or whether it needs more or less light.
Key Development: The Internet of Things is helping time-poor consumers to reconnect with nature.
Swedish retailer Ikea has collaborated with scientists from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences to develop a system that makes it possible to grow plants in low natural light conditions. Ikea’s team set about creating a product that would enable its customers to grow their own produce all year round, with the added benefit of learning how to grow and care for different plant species.
Key Development: A greater awareness of their effect on the environment is causing many households to adopt a more Whole-system approach to Rurbanism
Urby Staten Island designed by Concrete, New York. Photography by Ewout Huibers
Urby is a 5,000-square-feet residential space with a series of social spaces including a communal kitchen, terraces with beehives and an urban farm. The farm is used to cultivate more than 50 varieties of greens, fruiting vegetables, flowers, herbs and roots, which are used by residents and in dishes at the development’s on-site café.
Key Development: At the heart of the Rurban Revolution is a sense of conviviality. This space brings the community together while teaching them life skills.
The mixed-use space is divided into a food incubator, hydroponic farm and events and festival space, and will host farm-to-table restaurants. It will also support a new Young Farmer Apprenticeship Scheme, educating the next generation on how to cultivate and harvest crops in the urban environment.
Key Development: Brands are developing Rurban initiatives that engage the local community.