Towards the “Post-Rural”: An investigation for the future of the city, through waste management and food production

Today’s ever-developing body of medical and agricultural technologies, such as lab-grown meats, invokes a future of an urbanism that departs from conventional rural farming facilities and practices. Once made widely available, these technologies may inform a post-farming, or post-rural, landscaped means to food production and water management, one that abandons traditional platforms for agriculture and shifts focus to lab-to-table industries.

How could we think of these technologies merging and acting in places like Mexico City and its metropolitan area, where economic and political disparity drive creative solutions for fighting water and food supply catastrophes?

Mexico City’s increasing urbanization raises major challenges with its water, irrigation, and waste management systems (ie. overexploitation, flooding, and poor quality, etc.). Several governmental initiatives were placed to treat and drain wastewaters, but were not enough to tackle environmental and economic crisis. Informal solutions and do-it-yourself initiatives emerge on an individual or communal need basis, where projects like Isla Urban (a rain water filtering system that costs less than 250 USD for low income neighborhoods and peripheral cities), or Huerto Roma Verde (an informal farm in La Roma neighborhood of CDMX), or architectural studios like Laboratorio para la Ciudad and Alberto Kalach’s Future Cities take lead of this need.

Hints of architecture’s response to the failures of modernization are found throughout the region as direct need-based structures or technologies – such as farm-to-table or personal rainwater filtration devices, respectively. Whether permanent or temporary, these structures speak to a larger anxiety over the urgency of eco-sustainable practices concerning food supply and water shortage issues. From lab-grown meats and to a case study of Mexico City’s formal and informal water and food management strategies, the comparison between advanced food technology and rapid response structures will contribute to how the future of ‘urban’ could adapt in times of ecological crisis.