Food for Thought


Kawin Dhanakoses


This project is aiming to improve food knowledge of local people, their healthy lifestyles and local agricultural business for social and economic sustainability of the community.

The lack of food knowledge has become an important issue that effects human health and well-being. It is a fundamental knowledge that provide human self-awareness of healthy diets and proper eating habits which could prevent many health problems such as diabetes, etc. Moreover, food knowledge is also about acknowledging people the importance of supporting local agricultural business which is not only beneficial in terms of environmental sustainability according to less carbon emission from less food mile, etc.  but also in terms of economic and social sustainability where local agricultural business can generate income for local people and provide potential in developing their own authenticity in healthy food culture.

The issues

Sustainable development starts with safe, healthy and well-educated children – UNICEF.

In each day, The Scottish government has provided more than 6000 healthy school meals which are sourced from local food providers to all schools in the Scottish border area. Unfortunately, we can still always see school pupils gathering in the fast food shops during lunch time, socializing with the friends.

From the discussion in the workshop, we found the main issue that school meals are not preferable to teenage school pupils where they tend to choose to go out of school to have lunch with their friends. But, there are only few healthy food choices available and none of those are targeting to attract school pupils or teenagers as their main target group.
Moreover, Celebrity chef shows may top the TV ratings, but many people have forgotten how to cook, especially the decline in cooking and food growing trend among young people has eroded imprtant life skills and contributed to a culture of dependence upon food manufacturers for their own basic needs.


At the same time, food now travels from evermore distant parts of the globe; relying heavily upon fossil fuels, creating pollution, incresing the need for packaging and preservation, and often reducing freshness and nutritional content. Local agricultural business are struggling in competing with big brand supermarkets. Even though local farmers and food production business are capable of producing fresher and higher quality ingredients, but they are far less accessible to local people comparing to big supermarkets.

It can be seen that big retailers occupied much larger space in the town center area comparing to smaller local shops. This could reflect the way in which big retailers store the products which are been transported in large amount at a time. As a result this shows excessive food mile as the imported goods from different countries. Also, there are more likely to produce food waste from unsold products.
It can be seen that big retailers occupied much larger space in the town center area comparing to smaller local shops. This could reflect the way in which big retailers store the products which are been transported in large amount at a time. As a result this shows excessive food mile as the imported goods from different countries. Also, there are more likely to produce food waste from unsold products.

The Proposal

Sustainable local food system
The development of a local food system is proved to be a logical and appropriate way to revitalize a community. Not only does an adequate, varied diet contribute to individual health, but the way food is grown, distributed and eaten also profoundly affects the environmental, social, and economic well-being of the community. (Feenstra, 1997)

In order to accomplish the aim of “Food for Thought” project, it is very important to start by acknowledging local people about all the processes involved in food production and impacts on sustainability of the community. Afterwards, local people would have more awareness and be able to minimize the impacts and adapt their own local food system to suit the context of Galashiels based on local environmental and community health priorities.

This diagram shows the complete process of sustainable local food system. source:
This diagram shows the complete process of sustainable local food system.

Target Groups

There are 3 main target groups of users that would be involving in this project

  • Schools & Universities
  • Local agricultural business owners & farmers
  • People in the community

The Short-Term Plan

The short term plan which might be an effective solution to start with is trying to keep the school pupils in the school area during lunch time to make sure that they stay in the safer and healthier environment. This strategy allows school pupils to continue developing their self-awareness in health and well-being during their teenage years which could be the ‘turning point’ of their lives. On the other hand, this proposal could also raise some arguments about freedom of school pupils.

This map shows the main walking routes of school pupils to get their food and existing food shops that are available for them in the town center area. However, this also shows that there are more locally owned food shops than those big brand supermarket or chain stores. As a result, this reflects potential to change to provide healthier and more locally sourced food in short term.
This map shows the main walking routes of school pupils to get their food and existing food shops that are available for them in the town center area. However, this also shows that there are more locally owned food shops than those big brand supermarket or chain stores. As a result, this reflects potential to change to provide healthier and more locally sourced food in short term.

The Long-Term Plan – Enhancing the “Links”

  • School – University
    By enhancing a link with the university, pupils would be beneficial from gaining more food knowledge, eating healthier and more tasty school meals from lectures, experiments and researches conducted by professors and college students.
    Government can support the Borders College by providing funds or subsidies for establishing more healthy food shops which would be running by college students, especially who study ‘Catering & Hospitality’. This project is not only intervene the existing system by providing more healthy food choices for pupils in the most critical area, but also provide local agricultural business owners with more supply chains for their economic sustainability.
  • School – Local Farmers
    Local farmers should be getting more involved into curriculum and pupils’ daily lives at school. The school’s cooks might provide the list of ingredients needed to cook school meals and each group of pupils would be given responsibility to grow and take care of their own allotments with the help of local farmers. Although the crops that pupils produced might not meet the demand they need, at least they could develop the realistic idea of awareness of food safety and they would gain self-esteem as they eat what they grew.
  • Local Farmers – People
    More area in public parks and school yards would be transformed into ‘community allotments’. Local people and farmers would be drawn in closer together to create stronger relationship between them which would provide them with more likely chance to create their authenticity. People could grow, share their own food in the community allotments which would be supervised by the local farmers. During weekend, those area would become ‘weekend market’ for local people to buy their fresh food from local farms. This provide better flow of food education by exchanging knowledge between people and farmers, as well as providing local farming business more opportunity to encounter with local people and integrating them into the community

Case studies

  • Grow to Work : ‘Grow to Work’ is a business driven by social and environmental purposes which they provides training and employment for young adults from different backgrounds in order to build up their skills and experience before applying for jobs or college. Their main employment activity is gardening and groundskeeping where trainees learn skills from volunteers of different expertise.

The ‘Grow to Work’ shows a sustainable network model of developing social cohesion, self-esteem, healthy lifestyle and well-being of people in the community. The organization provide a place where people can exchange their knowledge, especially between trainees and volunteers. Trainees who become more skilful would be ready for the job market to sustain themselves and they are also be able to contribute back to the community by becoming a volunteer and extend this network onwards.

We cooked healthy food for them and let them eat what they grew, they were really proud of themselves.

– Gregor Scott, Director of ‘Grow to Work’


  • Soil Association : ‘Soil Association’ is a group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists who are campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. Their main focus can be divided into 3 areas:
    1. They aim to provide solutions to food sustainability that help people to live, eat, farm and grow with the resources that are available and also pioneer new solutions to tackle climate change and future challenges.
    2. Aiming to provide good food for all. They have been working with schools and communities to make sure everyone has access to healthy food and also build healthier food cultures.
    3. They work share technical support and knowledge especially about organic farming with pioneering farmers, growers, businesses and consumers because these people are the keys to enabling change to a better future.

They are a good exemplar for Galashiels to form relationship networks including families, researchers, local farmers, etc to tackle food sustainability issues and improve their overall well-beings.

The Network Proposition


The diagram shows the integration of different networks into the context of Galashiels. The green area shows the possibilities to extend school yard and transforming public parks into community allotments which would be accessible to every people in the community. Not only aiming to provide more healthier food choices for every people to improve their well-being, but also this network also aiming to improve the three aspects of sustainable development including economy, social and environmental.

In terms of economic and social aspects, local agricultural business owners and farmers would be provided with more profitable route to market. By providing more opportunities for people to meet with the food growers, this also automatically encourage a sense of community between buyers and sellers which results in a stronger community cohesion.

In terms of environment, not only the pollution associated with food transportation would decrease, but also people in the community would be more interested in how the land around them is farmed or even grow their own food.

Better food knowledge and self-awareness of healthy diets of people will be the key that would automatically drive existing food shops and food manufacturers to change towards a more sustainable local food system.

The Programmatic Proposition

This project comprises of 2 main sites where both of them are programmed differently to fit with the context and also bring the best potential out of the existing sites.

The diagram shows the programmatic proposition of both site A and B and the links between both of them.
The diagram shows the programmatic proposition of both site A and B and the links between both of them.

Site A: Galashiels Academy
School yard would be extended and transformed into school farming area where project “A” is located. The main objective of the building programmes in this site is to become a prototype to acknowledge pupils and every people about the complete process of food production, from farm to table, and also how food wastes and agricultural residues can be recycled as a renewable energy.

Site B: Gala Park
The Gala Park is chosen for project “B” as it has the best potential for this project to enhance the links between knowledge, economy and community. Locating in the middle of the town center, the programmes of site “B” are designed to be focusing more on community and social aspects. By integrating and settling itself into a complex urban connections, this would create good vibes in the middle of the town center and also be able to promote social and economic sustainability.

Neighborhood Rejuvenation

By fitting the programmatic proposition effectively into the context of the Gala park, several changes to the existing site have also been proposed to benefit the neighborhood in the long term.

FOOD_site neighborhood

Open up “The Mill Lead”
The existing Mill Lead should be more integrated into the neighborhood. By including existing natural features into the site would provide people more awareness of their environment.

Change in neighborhood connections
This proposal includes the removal of existing bridge in order to enhance the flow of pedestrians. The bridge is changed into steps of landscape linking between two different ground levels and into the building which this also provide the unobstructed extended visual connection of the Gala Park.
The Bank street would become narrower with the wider pavements for pedestrians, in order to promote a safer environment and encourage more social activities about food and well-being for every people in the community. Moreover, this would be beneficial to existing food shops and unoccupied store front which would become a healthy food shops running by Borders College students as well.

Change the use of Gala park
The Gala park will transform into the mixed use park of 3 different functions. The area of the park nearest to the building would become an area for intensive organic farming which is connected directly to the farmers’ market. Secondly, the area around the middle section of the park will become community allotments where people in the community can grown their own food and gain farming knowledge from local farmers and specialists. The remaining area of the Gala park will become recreational area for every people and playgrounds for children where every people can meet, socialise and eat healthy food together.

Volumetric Proposition

The volumetric proposition is designed based on activities and interactions among different groups of people and also shows adaptability of space for three main purposes: promoting social interaction, supporting local agricultural business and exchanging knowledge.

FOOD_programme proposition-05
For example, the Gala Park which is connected to this project and transformed into community allotments and playground would be able to provide a space where people can meet or socialise while gaining knowledge or advice from local farmers who is taking care of the allotments, or a cooking studio which is planned to be used for educating pupils and people about cooking healthy food, can be used as the main kitchen for food preparation during peak time as well.
Moreover, the volumetric proposition is also aiming to provide the seamless connection between indoor and outdoor space as well.

Energy Proposition

The main concept is to produce renewable energy from food waste and agricultural residues in the form of “biomass”.
Wet food waste could undergo anaerobic digestion process to produce biogas that we could burn for heat or the solid residue which we could burn as a fuel or use as fertilizer.

The building environmental strategies for the project are:

  • PV panels – The solar panels are installed on top of the glass house sloped towards the south.
  • The Greenhouse – Not only the glass house would provide the facility for Organic farming lab, it also act as the second layer facade and become the buffer zone for the seminar room which located underneath.
  • Skylight Roof – The small skylight openings provide the use of natural daylight as well as natural ventilation. They are designed in the position that allows maximum adaptability to future use.
  • Cooking from biomass – Heat for cooking would also be generated from biomass.
  • Heat Exchanger – Heat generated from cooking would go through heat exchanger system to heat up the floor during winter
  • Rainwater recycling system – From the top roof, rainwater is collected and used for watering crops in the lab on the top floor when needed. Excess rainwater from run-off area is channeled into the grey water treatment system to use for flushing toilets and irrigation system for the park. During heavy rains, excess rain water would be channeled into the Mill lead.

FOOD_energy proposition

Case Study

California, USA, Jensen Architects

FOOD_the shed

This case study show an exemplar in terms of concept and programmatic proposition. The concept of the project is to enhance the essentail connection between the land, its cultivation and the community. The architect wanted to create a place that can bring out the beauty and aliveness of the complete food cycle – growing, preparing, and enjoying good food – to become visible and revealing the path from farm to table.
The cafe features an open kitchen with seasonal menus highlighting local farmers and producers. Visitors can also stop for a locally roasted coffee and variety of local food as well as home-made products. It is also a gathering place for local residents, chefs, farmers, producers and visitors to exchange knowledge as well as food culture.
In terms of environmental strategy, the design utilizes large garage doors for natural ventilation and daylighting as well as an energy-efficient HVAC system and PV panels. As they overlooks a tributary to the river nearby, so the team designed a rain garden and catch basin to manage the flow and filter pollutants from rainwater run-off.

Grenville Gardens allotment project


This project shows an examplar of a playful creative ideas that could reconnect the community. By filling the unused park with wooden planting boxes, each built and stewarded by a local family. The structures then slot into an elevated watering channel fed by rainwater harvested from a local roof.
As part of the on-site neighbourhood assembly, each family was presented with a step-by-step guide to constructing their own allotment box. Designs were tailored to the individual’s needs through varied heights, location combination and later planting choices with assistance from Capital Growth. The allotment project finally has become a reflection of the multi-nationality and vibrancy of the Islington community and energy of its residents. The project was claimed to be successful as an exemplary bottom-up initiative. Residents maintain a visual connection with their allotments, tending to and watching out for their neighbour’s boxes, reclaiming ownership of the previously under-used park.

The Greenhouse Project
New York, USA, Kiss+Cathcart

FOOD_the greenhouse This project shows an examplar of using the rooftop as the glass house. The initial concept of the project was to create a designated space for students to get hands-on experience with food production but the significant challenge was a lack of space. As a result, they decided to transform a roof top of the building into the greenhouse.
The architects utilized a double polycarbonate glazing on the roof rather than glass with an operable roof allows natural ventilation while automated heat blankets prevent heat loss in the cooler months. Inside, students grow vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and a range of lettuces and herbs. A rainwater catchment system captures water and collects up to 40,000 gallons of it in rooftop tanks. The school then uses this water to nourish the hydroponically-fed plants. The hydroponic system circulates and recycles water while schools of tilapia provide fertilizer in water tanks beneath the plantings. Students will learn—and watch—the process of composting.

The Prototype


Environmental strategy and
Sustainable responsiveness

Concept on building materials

The selection of materials for this project is based on sustainable criteria which they should comply with most of the following criterias namely;

  • Renewable
  • Low embodied energy
  • Low CO2 emissions
  • Sourced locally
  • Reuseable and recyclable
  • Minimum waste
  • Non-polluting

Timber Construction

Wood as building material
Wood is a renewable building material with its properties of high-strength with low weight. It consists of cells whose cavities provide thermal insulation and whose cell walls absorb and release moisture which one of the benefits of that is to ensure a healthy interior climate.

Using wood to protect the climate
Forests and wood products make an effective contribution to protecting the climate. The use of wood reduces the consumption of non-renewable fuels and products made from non-renewable resources. Moreover, only by managing forests and using the wood and its application in large quantities and in a wide range of products, the wood that stored carbon are removed for production and then the forest is re-grown to extract further Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere.

At the end of their life cycle
When timber products or components are no longer required, they can be used in three ways: biological decomposition, material recycling, and energy generation which shows the potential of using wood instead of fossil or non-renewable materials to relief environmental impact.

Structural Design Approach

Timber floor joists are placed on top of the main beam in order to create space allowing building services to be integrated along with the structure throughout the building. Moreover, this approach helps reducing the amount and process of complicated steel connectors and also not compromising on strength and structural performance.

Due to the difference in the average room temperature and level of exposure of these 2 zones, yellow and brown, the main structural beams are separated in order to extend the service life of timber structure. The cantilevered terrace area is supported by tension structural members hanging from the truss above which allows the utilization of smaller structural members dimensions comparing to compression structural members.

FOOD_prototype section

Kitchen Heat Recovery System

Stale, moist air is extracted out of the main kitchen. This moist air is then ducted to a central unit located in the service room. This extracted air passes over a heat exchanger before being ducted to outside. Simultaneously, fresh air is drawn into the unit from outside via a filter, and is warmed by the heat exchange cell. This tempered, fresh air is then delivered through supply vents into cafes seating areas and the multi-purpose hall. During summer, fresh air is drawn in without passing through the heat recovery system.

FOOD_prototype plan

Structural Materials

Columns – Solid timber on pinned base (steel plate)
Beams – Glued Laminated Timber (glulam)
Joists – Solid structural timber
Boards – 3-ply core plywood

FOOD_prototype woods

The reason for not using large sawn timber sizes if assembled sections are available is that because smaller regrowth and plantation logs yield a greater proportion of smaller material, the availability of large section material will decrease.

Wood protection

Layers of materials and assemblies protect the main structural members of the building from being exposed to the environment and the semi-exposed wood products are designed to be easily inspected. As a result, this reduces the use of wood presevatives and chemicals. The solid timber column is placed on pinned base steel plate which provide clearance for avoiding problems caused by splashing water on the ground floor. The horizontal and sloping surfaces of components are covered by other materials to protect the structure from precipitation. Moreover, building assemblies, especially walls, are designed to ensure ventilation so that penetrating moisture or candensation can be carried away by evaporation.

FOOD_prototype section strategy

FOOD_prototype wall section

“Scottish Larch” is selected as the main material in many components of this projectbecause not only it scores in most of the sustainable criterias mentioned earlier, it can also aesthetically express weathering through time and represent the authenticity of the place.

FOOD_prototype details1

FOOD_prototype details2

Material Details

Wall Components : 300 mm. (U-value = 0.1968 W/m2.K)

  • Finishes :     20 mm. Natural Larch tongue and groove weatherboarding on battens
  • Cavity :         50 mm. Ventilated cavity
  • Membrane : Breather membrane
  • Structure :    10 mm. 3-ply core plywood
    50×150 mm. Timber studs with
  • Insulation :    mineral fibre thermal insulation between
  • Membrane :  Polyethylene vapour barrier (air-tight)
  • Finishes :     10 mm. 3-ply core plywood
  • Cavity :         50 mm. Space for building services
  • Finishes :     10 mm. Natural Larch tongue and groove boarding on battens

Floor Components : (U-value = 0.6639 W/m2.K)

  • Finishes :     20 mm. Natural Larch boarding (600×600 mm.) on raised floor timber support
  • Cavity :         90 mm. Ventilated cavity
  • Membrane : Waterproof membrane
  • Structure :    20 mm. 3-ply core plywood
    50×150 mm. @600 mm. Timber floor joists with mechanical services in between
    150×450 mm. Glued Laminated Timber

Ceiling Components :

  • Structure :    25×50 mm. @600 mm. Rough Sawn timber on batten with
  • Insulation :   mineral fibre thermal insulation between
  • Membrane : Polyethylene vapour barrier (air-tight)
  • Finishes :     10 mm. Natural Larch boarding

Bon Appétit 🙂

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