Rurban Revolution

01 : 05 : 2015 Urban : Local : Growing

Identified by LS:N Global in 2010, Rurban = rural + urban. City dwellers are rejecting the impersonal bigness of globalisation and corporations, and reconnecting with their communities.

Rurban Revolution Overview

Community Commerce by Keiren Jones Community Commerce by Keiren Jones

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 Revolutionaries.

Turning downtown blocks into villages with a rural feel, these Rurban Revolutionaries are redefining the look and feel of community, culture and consumption.

Their Rurban Revolution looks like the Swedish mobile phone app that points users in the direction of the nearest

farm shop, or like Arthur Potts Dawson’s new co-operative corner shop, The People’s Supermarket.

It tastes of honey from Eagle Street Rooftop Farm’s rooftop beehive and the herbs Christopher Nyerges finds foraging in Los Angeles. And it feels and smells like the fresh dirt turned over in allotments near Frankfurt.

Click through the sections on this page to see how the Rurban Revolution trend has been manifest since 2010.


Brooklyn Grange Farm, New York Brooklyn Grange Farm, New York

April: Brooklyn Grange offers fresh produce from city buildings

Brooklyn Grange opens in New York as a large-scale rooftop farm to supply vegetables to local residents.

Key Development: The city farm creates a form of relationship and community between farmer and consumer.

RA concept store, Antwerp RA concept store, Antwerp

June: Rurbanism sweeps the design sector

In the Rurban design direction, we explore how Rurbanism is influencing a soft, craft-inspired aesthetic, led by the likes of Joost Bakker, Iittala and RA concept store.

Key Development: Rurban isn’t just about urbanites growing vegetables, but influencing design through materials used.

Mulberry, London Mulberry, London

December: Mulberry opens Rurban-inspired store

Luxury brand Mulberry opens a Rurban-inspired flagship store in London featuring a rustic dry stone wall.

‘We 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.


Selfridges Grow! Selfridges Grow!

April: Selfridges opens urban gardening shop

Selfridges opens an urban gardening shop called Grow! in collaboration with guerrilla gardening activist Richard Reynolds.

Window displays for Grow! feature repurposed gardening devices created by guerrilla gardeners, as well as photographic portraits by Reynolds of urban gardens around the world.

Key Development: A retailer inspires consumers to embrace unexpected ways to garden when living in the city.

HK Honey Urban Bee Farm, Ngau Tau Kok HK Honey Urban Bee Farm, Ngau Tau Kok

May: HK Honey launched in Hong Kong

HK Honey is launched as a honey brand, sourcing its product from rooftop beehives in Hong Kong.

The company installs beehives in businesses around the city to create a local network. ‘People want to know where their food comes from,’ says founder Michael Leung.

Key Development: The Rurban Revolution makes its way to unexpected markets. In a city as populated as Hong Kong, HK Honey shows that environment-enhancing apiaries are possible.

The Urban Physic Garden by Wayward Plants The Urban Physic Garden by Wayward Plants

June: Urban Physic Garden opens in London

An Urban Physic Garden opens on a previously derelict site in south London for two months in the summer of 2011.

Acting as a site for workshops, talks, film-screenings and events, the garden is evidence of the rise of rural pockets in urban surroundings.

Key Development: Derelict spaces are being transformed into community hubs, village greens for the city.


Abbeyparks, Lincolnshire Abbeyparks, Lincolnshire

May: Consumers grow real food on virtual allotment

Online platform I-Grow is launched, enabling consumers to tend a real allotment and harvest fresh produce without getting their hands dirty.

As the crops grow, landowners will be sent regular news updates and photographs so they can remotely monitor how their plants are progressing.

Key Development: Busy city dwellers without the time or resources to tend to their own crops can use the internet to promote an agrarian lifestyle from afar.

Turntable Restaurant, Helsinki Turntable Restaurant, Helsinki

May: Rurban restaurant opens in Finland

Finnish 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.

Biotop, by Adam et Ropé Biotop, by Adam et Ropé

May: Rurban relaxation meets high-end retail in Tokyo’s Biotop space

LS:N Global’s retail analysis reviews a concept store in Tokyo, Biotop, that places plants and gardening tools among high-fashion clothing.

Key Development: Rurban goes high-end in Tokyo, showing that the mindset is for luxurians and Rurban hipsters alike.


Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar pop-up by Hassell Practice, Melbourne Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar pop-up by Hassell Practice, Melbourne

March: Rurban Revolution hits Melbourne

Café culture in Melbourne turns towards Rurban values and revivalist ways of thinking, as discussed in our Melbourne Safari.

Designers from the Hassell practice erect an Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Key Development: Rurban continues to travel the globe, reaching the shores of Australia and blending with the strong coffee culture.

Hello Compost Hello Compost

July: Scheme fosters urban composting

Hello Compost lets urban residents in New York trade organic waste for fresh produce.

In a bid to inspire the city’s population, the service also provided credits to low-income residents to buy produce in return for food waste.

Key Development: Rurban moves beyond rooftop apiaries and vegetable plots with this programme that encourages city dwellers to do some good with their waste.

Hunt and Gather challenge by The Thought for Food Hunt and Gather challenge by The Thought for Food

July: The rise of foraging

As foraging goes mainstream, the Thought For Food collective hosts a dinner challenge in which guests are asked to locally forage for, pick or purchase their own dinner ingredients.

Key Development: A growing desire for provenance means that more consumers are willing to hunt, or in this case gather, their own dinner.


Roots and Bulbs, London Roots and Bulbs, London

March: The juicing craze gains momentum in UK

Having established itself firmly in Los Angeles and New York, cold-pressed juicing makes its way to British shores.

Roots & Bulbs opens in London, marking the growth of health-focused establishments with Rurban values.

Key Development: As the wellness craze hits its peak, juice bars embrace locally grown produce for peak freshness.

Microgarden growing kit by Stockholm-based designers Tomorrow Machine Microgarden growing kit by Stockholm-based designers Tomorrow Machine

May: Infarm creates microgreens kits for city dwellers

Start-up company Infarm launches its first product, a miniature greenhouse that makes it easy for anyone to grow microgreens.

The Microgarden Growing Kit is intended as a starting point for those who want to grow their own food in an urban environment.

Key Development: Some city folk do not even have room for a window box, let alone a plot of land. This innovative greenhouse makes Rurban living possible even in the smallest of spaces.

The Jellyfish Barge by Studio Mobile, Italy The Jellyfish Barge by Studio Mobile, Italy

November: Floating greenhouse for sustainable hydroponic farming

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 by UC Berkeley students and Kengo Kuma & Associates, Japan. Photography by Shinkenchiku-sha

February: A self-sustaining space opens in Japan

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, Greenwich Craft London, Greenwich

April: A localist restaurant opens in industrial east London

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 Fried Finnish reindeer moss with pulverized cep mushrooms at NOMA, Copenhagen. Photography by Mikkel Heriba

September: Noma to re-open as an urban farm

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.

Community Feast by Cake Wines, Sydney Community Feast by Cake Wines, Sydney

October: Winery launches series of dinners in community gardens

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 The Parrot Pot

January: Technology company Parrot unveils a smart plant pot that monitors and waters house plants

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.

KRYDDA/VÄXER hydroponic series by Ikea, Sweden KRYDDA/VÄXER hydroponic series by Ikea, Sweden

March: Ikea releases its own hydroponics kit

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 Staten Island designed by Concrete, New York. Photography by Ewout Huibers

July: A new residential development in New York features an urban farm

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.

Farmopolis, London Farmopolis, London

September: Farmopolis, a bold new urban farming project in London is the cities latest cultural hub

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.

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