The first is the Madeira Odorless Fish Market, from 2006.
Camara de Lobos, Madeira, Chan explains, “is a fishing village located 10km west of the capital, Funchal. The fishing community is quickly dwindling into poverty as Funchal provides its own facilities for fish vending businesses. Camara de Lobos remains the only place in the world where the Black Scabbard fish industry can be self sustained, yet the fishermen still receive second hand pay for their catch as most of it is sold in Funchal.”
Accordingly, the Odorless Fish Market “provides a place where their catch can be sold directly. The programme consists of a fish market, smokery, fish cookery school cum restaurant run by the fishermen community. Its architecture is technically driven to control Smell, Ventilation and Cooling, to provide a building with a greatly reduced smell of fish. The heart of the architecture is a solar chimney system which uses the consistent madeiran sun to, ironically, ventilate/cool the building.”
It is a spatially self-deodorizing architecture of thermal air control.
The second of Chan’s projects that I want to look at quickly here is the so-called Tempelhof Ministry of Food, from 2010.
“Tempelhof Ministry of Food is a bread and fish production community situated on the old airfield of Tempelhof Airport,” Chan writes.
More specifically, “the proposal is a joint venture between Edeka and the Berlin State, seeking to help Berlin’s current problems of unemployment and social disparity.” Local residents can produce their own food, cultivating “a spirit of co-existence and community, which they bring back to other Berliners.”
Of course, it takes more than simply activating a vegetation layer in Photoshop to create a realistic urban food infrastructure, but the technical realization of the images—as well as the historic context of the Berlin Airlift, when Tempelhof effectively became an emergency food-distribution center—make it interesting enough for a quick look.
Indeed, as much as I like the narrative background for the Tempelhof project, it’s simply too hard to tell if there is more to the proposal’s otherwise impressive imagery to suggest a financially realistic and socially sustainable intervention into Berlin’s existing systems of urban food production.
Put another way, it’s one thing to create, analyze, or even editorially promote architectural projects as narrative ideas—that is, as scenario plans for future landscapes—but it’s another thing to look at whether or not such proposals do, in fact, operate successfully as solutions to the problems they highlight.
In any case, the spatial and atmospheric implications of food are foregrounded by both projects, though it is the deliberately complicated, Rube Goldberg-like sectional ventilation chambers seen in the Odorless Fish Market that seem most worthy of further exploration.
—Spaces of Food #5: Madeira Odorless Fish Market and the Tempelhof Ministry of Food
—Spaces of Food #4: Betel Nut Beauties
—Spaces of Food #3: The Mushroom Tunnel of Mittagong
—Spaces of Food #2: Inflatable Greenhouses on the Moon
—Spaces of Food #1: Agriculture On-The-Go and the Reformatting of the Planet