Dutch Firm To Build An Urban Park That Doubles As A Farm

The Dutch inch closer and closer to producing food where most people live: in the city.

For all the talk about inner-city gardens and farms sprouting off the side of skyscrapers, growing and eating your dinner in the same place is still a pipe dream for most city dwellers. Leave it to the endlessly progressive Dutch to bring large-scale urban food production closer to reality.


Rotterdam-based Van Bergen Kolpa Architecten has plans to build a Park Supermarket on 4,000 acres of agrarian land in Randstad, Holland’s largest metropolitan region (consisting of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht). As the name suggests, Park Supermarket would stock everything you’d find in a typical grocery store, except that instead of plucking your assorted vegetables and rice off a shelf, you’d get them fresh out of the ground. “People buy (and recreate and consume and learn) where the food is produced,” Jago van Bergen tells Co.Design in an email. The park would include everything from Pandan-en Risotto grown on water terraces to Tilapia farmed in man-made basins to kiwis and avocado raised on vertical walls.

Which sounds positively loony in Holland. Since when did this icy North Sea nation adopt the sun-kissed growing conditions of California? It didn’t. Van Bergen Kolpa Architecten plan to tightly control the park’s environment to simulate more moderate, Mediterranean, and tropical climates. According to the firm’s project description: The outdoor supermarket will be “supported by old techniques such as warmth-accumulating snake walls and more contemporary solutions such as insulating water spray roofs and floor heating.” The park will also be divvied up into 2.5-acre plots for small-scale (read: manageable) farming and grocery shopping.

Van Bergen tells us that his firm is working on a 74-acre pilot project with a farmers’ cooperative, residents, and the city government in Nijmegen, outside Randstad. It’s slated to open next fall.

Park Supermarket is part of Architecture of Consequence: San Francisco, an exhibit about architecture and social change on view in San Francisco through October 21. More coverage of the show here and here.

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.