Leeds School of Arts

Beneath the Crops: An award winning project about readdressing food security through interior architecture

My story about winning the Interior Educators National Award 2021 for ‘Climate Emergency and Sustainability’ with my project that readdressed food security through disused buildings; in this instance, Bempton Bunker, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Circle image - with underground building and field above

Abandoned and almost forgotten, RAF Bempton was once a crucial part of the British radar defence system during WWII. With a functional architecture that revisits a time when our country was urged to ‘dig for victory’, this project aims to readdress how our food is produced by creating a transferable modern farming scheme, that could be adapted to various landscapes and disused buildings across the UK.

A selection of images

A Visual Journey

This adaptation united farmers of Bridlington with Farm Urban enabling traditional, rural farms on the surface to increase their efficiency and output by incorporating agricultural waste recycling, which could then be used to fertilise hydroponically grown crops underground. Following this close-loop format spatially, visitors would be invited to explore the journey from traditional to modern farming. These spaces included: an observatory, a private science laboratory, an educational exhibition about food security, the hydroponic farm itself, and a small farmer’s market selling local produce.

Observatory cross section

Observatory Section Drawing

Of course, sustainability and urban farming is not anything new, but with this project I really wanted to give the concept a new lease of life by approaching it from an interior design angle, where spatial experience could capture the users’ imaginations, which in turn could result in further action/support for the cause. The course has taught me that to create a spatial language anyone can understand, dissecting qualities of a site, building and its functions is essential in drawing strong connections and rooting concepts. For example, visually, you can see I have used a strong pink identity throughout the project; requiring red and blue LEDs to grow, I considered how functional lighting in the hydroponic farm could also contribute towards spatial experience creating a stronger relationship between user and function. 

Underground building long section

Long Section Drawing

Interior Educators Award for ‘Climate Emergency and Sustainability’:

Interior Educators (IE) is the organisation established by academics representing well-established interior programmes from across the UK. Founded by Graeme Brooker in 2006, IE now represents more than 50 Higher Education institutions, teaching almost 3,000 students.” Nominated by my final year tutors, Amanda Wanner, Maryam Osman and Patrick Cook for three awards was incredible. 

Considering the competition deadlines came before the course ones, I really did not expect any of my entries to do as well as one did, so I am absolutely over the moon that my entry for ‘climate emergency and sustainability’ actually won! Although I unfortunately was unable to make the ceremony itself in London, I did watch it live over Instagram and was absolutely thrilled when I heard my name called out. I felt very passionate about this project and worked hard on it throughout the past year (primarily at my bedroom desk, due to the lockdowns), so to receive recognition for it is amazing. 

For further information about the project visit the IE awards page.


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