The 2020 Steel Design Student Competition challenges students to design an Urban Food Hub. Urban agriculture is a social movement for sustainable communities, where organic growers, foodies, and locavores form social networks founded on a shared ethos of nature and community. Many people are looking for food security, nutrition, and income generation which are key motivations for urban agriculture and local markets. People who live in cities need a more direct access to fresh vegetables, fruits, and meat products through urban agriculture.
The USDA defines a food hub as “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.” Food Hubs are a part of the agricultural value chain model and often share common principles relating to conservation, sustainability, healthy food access, and supporting local farmers. A defining characteristic of food hubs is source identification, a food safety and marketing benefit that allows consumers to trace the origin of products they buy. One of the primary goals of food hubs is to give small and medium-sized farms access to larger or additional markets. Food hubs also fill gaps in food systems infrastructure, such as transportation, product storage, and product processing.
Steel is an ideal material, for the Urban Food Hub because it facilitates the quick construction of affordable, versatile structures. Steel offers the greatest strength-to-weight ratio. In addition, steel can be constructed quickly and for all project site types with the use of labor-saving prefabrication methods such as kit-of-parts, panelization, and modular construction.. Designing the Urban Food Hub with steel will be more flexible and adaptable to allow for changing needs over time. Steel can create an aesthetic that respects and enhances the location of the Hub installation.