Icon 135: Countryside 29.07.14

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Cover September 2014

Icon’s latest issue, available from 2 August, features an essay on the future of the countryside by Rem Koolhaas, as well as articles about digital farming, slaughterhouses and Wolfgang Buttress. Scroll down to see the contents and click through to read the articles online

This issue was inspired by an article suggested by Rem Koolhaas, in which he argues that the countryside has been overlooked by architects. It is a digital frontier, increasingly mediated by technology, that is in the process of volatile transformation that exceeds that of the most accelerated city. And it is irresponsible, he writes here, for architects to focus their attention so exclusively on cities, without looking at the evacuated spaces that define them.

How do we feed the world's 7 billion people, over half of which already live in urban areas? Despite our pastoral fantasies, farming has become a massive industry, the landscape a huge factory, as we squeeze the earth's limited resources in an attempt to do so. This brings with it all the ecological threats that we too easily ignore for the sake of cheapness and convenience.

These, as we know, are global problems: GM soy is grown in the Amazonian rainforest and fed to European cattle; Peruvian sardines fatten British pigs and Scottish farmed salmon. In a recent book, Philip Lymbery argues that, in the quest for cheap food, and because we eat too much of it, we're heading for Farmageddon.

We look at other aspects of the contemporary agro-industry that increasingly alienates farmers, and the rest of us, from the land. Daisy Ginsberg visits agricultural Iowa, where squadrons of combine harvesters are controlled by satellite and the prairies watered by drones.

And we look behind the blank industrial sheds of the architecture of slaughter, the ruthlessly efficient assembly line through which almost all of of our meat passes.

Read more about Icon here and subscribe to the magazine here 



Christopher Turner



quotes story

In the quest for cheap food, and because we eat too much of it, we're heading for Farmageddon



Rem Koolhaas OMA’s founder argues that the countryside is a digital frontier that is changing faster than any city

Slaughterhouses The assembly-line logic of the abbatoir runs through modern architecture

Digital farming Smart combine-harvesters and drones are revolutionising industrial farming

Wolfgang Buttress The artist is taking a virtual beehive and a slice of the British countryside to the World Expo next year


A round-up of this year’s Design Parade, a Bauhaus master’s house restored, a Swiss school by Angela Deuber, vases by Studio Markunpoika, furniture by Office KGDVS and Lex Pott’s collection made from a single tree

Reviews Digital revolution at the Barbican, a town planner’s tour of Britain, Soviet design classics, and a new book by Henri Lefebvre

Icon of the month The Metropolitan Green Belt

Anatomy of Seaboard Grand

Rethink Human pictogram

Five most wanted Zeev Aram

Sketchbook Piet Oudolf


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