WIT Press

Agrarian Urban Architecture


Free (open access)





Page Range

13 - 23




969 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


T. Gentry


In urban areas throughout the United States, the prevailing environmental design measures planners, architects and engineers use to address carbon footprint, water footprint, stormwater runoff, and food deserts are disassociated from one another, which produces suboptimal solutions. Reducing the carbon footprint typically involves scrutinizing the heating, cooling and light equipment. Reducing the water footprint invariably calls for the use of low-flow equipment, greywater systems and xeriscapes. Mitigating stormwater runoff defaults to the incorporation of rain gardens, bio-swales and green roofs. And, eradicating food deserts usually relies on the planning of farmers’ markets and community gardens. Missing is the one solution that addresses all four of these concerns – agrarian urban architecture. Planting green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales and public spaces with fruits and vegetables transforms urban rainwater from a stormwater management problem to a vital resource for community gardens and urban CSA (community supported agriculture) farms that are widely distributed throughout the urban area, which work to eliminate food deserts. Diverting rainwater away from measures that promote evaporation towards measures that produce food reduces the water footprint. And, producing food locally eliminates the carbon footprint associated with transporting food long distances. The only real challenge is getting this information into the hands of the people who can best effect a change – emerging planners, architects and engineers. This paper recounts a two-year effort to teach agrarian urban architecture by incorporate farming into a multidisciplinary design studio for planning, architecture and engineering students at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. The course pedagogy revolves around the integrated design process to seek environmentally and socially sustainable housing, which must include farming to be comprehensive.


water footprint, rainwater, integrated design process, architecture, urban farming