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Joe Mercer

MA work


Over half of the food consumed in the UK is imported. With Britain on the verge of leaving the EU the average supermarket shop could become significantly more expensive in the near future. If the UK were to focus its efforts on self-sufficiency in food production what would that mean for our cities and their infrastructure? London is surrounded by the Metropolitan Green Belt, an area of approximately 5160km2 currently dedicated largely to the production of food. What would the implications of emerging agricultural technologies be on the British landscape?

The Netherlands is at the forefront of research into agriculture. A country of 41,543km2 is second in food production by value to the USA at almost 240 times the size. Nearly half of this food is produced in Westland, a municipality of only 90.6km2. 80% of Westland is under greenhouses enabling the creation of varied conditions for different types of crops. These greenhouses, alongside developments in precision farming, have consistently doubled global yield values, reduced water dependence by up to 90%, almost eliminated the use of chemical pesticides and reduced the use of antibiotics in poultry and livestock production by as much as 60%. If the UK were to pursue such an agricultural infrastructure it could be possible to produce enough food to be self-sustaining, without having to radically adjust our diet.

Building in the Green Belt is a contentious issue, with pressure from necessary development to meet the demands of London’s inhabitants coming up against a desire to conserve our natural environment. However the reality of much of our green space is one of industry. The agricultural heritage of the UK has conditioned its inhabitants to think of nature as monocultural rolling fields, but these represent a significant human intervention in the natural world. Concentrating this industry into a network of hi-tech agricultural production could reduce the farmed land of the Green Belt from 59% to 7% and increase public access from 13% to 65%. A new road and rail infrastructure would serve as a support structure by connecting greenhouse production to existing networks of distribution. This new agricultural framework would facilitate a more sustainable food system, allow the landscape to return to a feral state and fulfil the original intention of the Metropolitan Green Belt as a collective natural asset for the people of London.


  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture, 2018

  • Degrees

  • BArch (Hons) Architecture, University of Brighton, 2014
  • Experience

  • Architectural Assistant, Apparata, 2017; Architectural Assistant, Coffey Architects, 2014 - 2016