Students design food systems of the future
One student group used AI to imagine a secret underground food system in St Albans in 2049.
- Swinburne students are exhibiting their work in Melbourne Design Week alongside the exhibition ‘Gloop: Exploring Urban Food Systems in 2049’
- Art practice Futureology has curated the exhibition to imagine the world of 2049, where global food systems are under strain and ‘Augmented Taste’ is transforming the idea of food
- Swinburne Master of Architecture and Urban Design students have responded to this scenario with their own designs of urban food systems
During Melbourne Design Week, futurist arts practice Futureology is taking Melburnians on an immersive tour of a ‘Gloop’ Factory from the future.
Gloop: Exploring Urban Food Systems in 2049 was created in collaboration with Swinburne’s School of Design and Architecture and BETA By STH BNK.
It is an exhibition set in a world has warmed 1.5 degrees above pre-Industrial levels, where global food systems are under strain, and the population is nearing 10 billion.
Students were posed the question: how can architecture be part of the food crisis solution?
They have been heavily involved in creating the exhibition, which has given them an invaluable opportunity to have their work showcased on a national level.
Using future thinking
Swinburne Master of Architecture and Urban Design students used ‘futureneering’ to explore future realities and design urban food systems and spaces for 2049.
Anna Reeves, Futureology Director, ran a workshop to expand students’ future anticipatory skills.
Aremel Tibayan and Alexander Favorito participated in the workshop and have gone on to be part of the exhibition alongside their Architecture and Urban Design studio peers
“Futureology shared ideas and showed us how we could think more effectively about the future,” Alexander said.
“How our architecture is going to affect the future, how it's going to live in the future, is always something we have to think about as architects.”
“In simple terms, futureneering is thinking ahead—saying: ‘OK, how can we develop processes that are beneficial for the future population?” Aremel said.
The 3021 project embraced the “definitely not sketchy” side of designing an underground food system.
Imagining with future tech
AI was central to driving the research and design process for the project.
Students used generative AI tools, including MidJourney and ChatGPT, to envision the future of Melbourne, as well as explore and experiment with their own ideas.
“I find that AI expands your imagination; it shows you things that you wouldn’t have thought of initially,” Alex said.
“It takes a lot of imagination to visualize what is far beyond our reach, so we're trying to use AI to help us imagine more,” Aremel said.
“In a society where everyone wants an output faster, you need tools that will keep up with that pace.
“AI can reduce your creative load so you can move faster. It is essential to help us survive and keep up.”
Swinburne lecturer, Linus Tan, introduced this technology as part of the Master of Architecture Design Research studio unit.
“As a technology university, it is imperative that our students embrace and gain AI skills to enter the industry with a competitive advantage,” Linus said.
Crafting future solutions
Aremel, Alex, and their teammate Robin responded to the 2049 scenario with the design of an underground restaurant named 3021.
The project was based on research about Vietnamese food and St Albans in Melbourne’s west.
The team investigated the origins of local produce, studied the architecture, observed how people interacted with spaces, and spoke to the local community.
“We realised in the ‘Gloop’ world, there would be a loss of the old way of sharing and making food—growing something on the farm, preparing it in the kitchen, and then sharing it together as a meal,” said Aremel.
“In St Albans, there are lots of makeshift spaces; little squashed shops, gaps in the streets where people are selling things. We found inspiration in those makeshift spaces, spaces that are tucked away, hidden within things,” said Alex.
These discoveries inspired the design of a restaurant that is both figuratively and literally underground.
3021, named after the St Albans postcode, embraces the entire journey of growing, harvesting, cooking, and sharing a meal, all hidden in a single location right under the nose of ‘Gloop Corp’.
The team is excited to share the design with the public for Melbourne design week.
“It’s exciting to be a part of, and the way that they're exhibiting everything as an immersive experience is very exciting as well,” said Alex.
“It's an honour to be able to show your ideas in that space. For students to have the opportunity for the public to see their work is something to be thankful for,” said Aremel.
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