ionicons-v5-h ionicons-v5-f ionicons-v5-f ionicons-v5-k ionicons-v5-a ionicons-v5-i ionicons-v5-e ionicons-v5-h ionicons-v5-l ionicons-v5-j ionicons-v5-g ionicons-v5-g ionicons-v5-i ionicons-v5-k ionicons-v5-g ionicons-v5-g

Open in new window

On Visualizing Urban Gardens. A study on how visuals can get people to garden in cities, through a digital tool.

Urban gardening is a practice that can be done in the smallest space of a city. On a balcony, in a tight corner between two buildings, on a rooftop, or in a shared garden. The possibilities are endless for those who wander outside the realm of a classical garden. By spending time outdoors, no matter the size of the space, and caring for plants, the frenetic rhythm of city life slows down.

Nevertheless, the practice of gardening takes time, and doing it in an urban environment adds other constraints that might not exist in rural areas, such as space, tools, or the urban climate in the summer. Another motivation for this research is the more ecological aspect of gardening in a city; it not only reduces the need to shop for food in plastic packaging, but also helps reduce the temperature of cities during the summer, which is drastically higher than in rural areas. Starting from this ecological mindset and the consciousness of how beneficial gardening in an urban area can be, the idea to explore ways on how to engage a broader audience to take part in this practice became the starting point.

Indeed the practice can seem easy for certain people, but also quite overwhelming for others if you have no experience in gardening at all. A digital platform that enables gardeners and gardeners-to-be to exchange their questions and gardens or veggie patches, would address this issue by creating a wholesome ecosystem of like-minded people. It would make it easy for people who are experienced gardeners to give advice, share their projects as well as connect with other people. It could also include potential gardeners who do not really know how to start, yet feel encouraged by this online community and, by being able to visit the gardens near them, see what they can do at home.

As a designer, the crucial aspect of this research is the visual language that is currently available when discussing urban gardening, as well as the potential to create a language that is bespoke to the digital tool. The research covers two different areas: visual language & urban gardens. To investigate these two areas and understand how the visual depiction can positively impact the way we see gardening, each of these topics will be questioned as a whole. How do you visually encourage people to go see urban gardens and veggie patches? And how do you create interest through a digital platform for people to get curious and involved in growing food or plants in cities?

The goal of this intensive investigation and practice-led research is to explore which visual language will engage and lead the onlooker to further explore the realm of urban gardening. Exploring new ways of meeting this community and including the current situation of our fast evolving society could offer a real potential for a new way of engaging with locals, whilst having a positive impact on our resources and our planet. Moreover, having a digital platform that lets you first explore your surroundings online, would let you take your own time to visit those gardens or start a project of your own. Therefore, the role of the images and visuals representing these urban spaces – gardens, vegetable patches, and balconies – is crucial to start a visual conversation.
Basel, 2020