Justin Bere presented a philosophical lecture to the Geffrye Museum members’ 2008 annual general meeting. The talk explained the link between architecture and land resource management, particularly farming and food and energy production. Justin referred to Professor Tim Lang’s recent lecture at City University and lamented the lack of government planning that is clearly necessary in order to address the increasing and conflicting demands on land for housing, energy and food production.
The UK has not been self sufficient in food production since 1750 and has increasingly relied on other people’s land to grow its food. However with increasing competition for overseas resources from the emerging Asian economies, combined with a realization of the environmental impact of global transportation, together with increasing fuel shortages it is clear that UK farming and farmland is overdue for a renaissance. The realization that the concepts of ‘redundant land’ and ‘set aside farmland’ are rapidly becoming out-dated concepts, necessitates the rethinking of our current approach to the availability of land for UK housing, including the availability of land for biomass production. This has implications on the so-called Code for Sustainable Homes and the increasing adoption of technologies that are making buildings reliant on the use of other people’s land to provide biomass for homes and offices. By contrast the Passivhaus approach aims to make housing as autonomous as possible. By focusing first on energy conservation to a degree almost unheard of in the UK today, on-site renewables become possible and farmland can be reserved for food production, without competition from urban populations for biomass production.