The Opportunity of Rural Space with Urban Relationships: Urban Agriculture as Contemporary Cultural Landscape for Resilience by Design

  • Luis Maldonado RiusEmail author


Urban Agriculture has emerged as a key practice and interdisciplinary subject in an increasingly urban world. Its work ranges from climate and landscape dynamics to new infrastructures including changes in food system, public health, energy model, and urban planning and management. However, it still presents a contradiction between the healthy well-being of the rural realm identified with “nature” and cities as “parasites” and urban phenomena as an assault on nature. The conflict has given room to responses sticking on the division between rural and urban space.

What do we mean by urban agriculture? What is its space and how to work on it? What do we assess? The results of recent practice and research seem to show no relevant spatial features. What “makes the difference” would be the continuity of the resource, the spatial pattern or land mosaics, in time. We do not value the place as much as the relationships the place provides.

The chapter introduces the discussion on the future role of agrarian space in the conurbation of Barcelona to present and discuss urban agriculture as a key meaningful activity to reshape and rethink old land mosaics as new contemporary cultural landscapes: the opportunity of rural space with urban relationships. From a “city region perspective”, the model could allow for important implications for resilience by design, combining landscape architecture, infrastructure planning, civil engineering, urban ecology, economics and the arts.


Urban agriculture Land mosaic Cultural landscape Landscape architecture Design Chance Adaptation Relationships Urban Rural 



This chapter is the result of several works from 2013 to 2016. In chronological order, I first thank Frank Lohrberg of RWTH Aachen, for inviting me to join the COST Action UAE project, its visits and discussions; and Lilli Licka of BOKU Vienna, as chair of its Space working group, for her wisdom and confidence. I partly owe my critical thinking on Baix Llobregat Agricultural Park to Contxita Sánchez, president of the Centre d’Estudis Comarcals del Baix Llobregat, who repeatedly encouraged me to present my studies on the space from different viewpoints. I am grateful to Carles Riba of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) for inviting me to be part of UPC’s commissions on “Diet and Energy” and “Habitability and Energy” and sharing his energy-flow understanding, and to Xavier Flotats of UPC for his comments and references on new-energies production conditions. I am very thankful to Antoni Farrero, from the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona, and Enric Batlle of UPC, who drove the round table “Metropolitan Landscape: Ecology, Leisure and Production”, for inviting me to participate, present and discuss my ideas on the future role of agrarian spaces in the city. Finally, I am especially grateful to Makoto Yokohari of the University of Tokyo, to Enric Batlle of Batlle i Roig Arquitectes and to Kate Orff and her office Scape for their kindness and permission to use their inspiring images.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · UPC Barcelona TechBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Agri-Food Engineering and Biotechnology (DEAB-ESAB)Castelldefels (Barcelona)Spain

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