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A productive permaculture campus in the desert: visions for Qatar University
In Qatar food and water security are high on the agenda of safe and sustainable development. At the same time, rapid urbanisation which is not integrated with ecological landscape design is contributing urban sprawl, fragmented landscapes and to the loss of biodiversity. At Qatar University, the architecture department has been working for several years on the concept of regenerative cities to develop an integrated approach to planning and design and to increase resource efficiency and quality of life. This has led to research and projects on edible landscapes at the campus to contribute to food supply to the University, while at the same time promoting biodiversity on the campus. Using examples from Edible Campuses worldwide, as well as literature on Permaculture, Food Urbanism and Edible landscapes, students and faculty identified strategies and best practices for implementing this vision for Qatar University. An analysis of the campus and existing and future buildings and landscapes was undertaken, to identify the types of interventions – retrofitting of existing buildings with green roofs and green walls and biodiversity habitats, transformation of existing landscapes, use of empty lands for food production, and modification of the urban design of future buildings with integrated food gardens. The Permaculture approach includes the concept of systems thinking and maximum resource efficiency and is used as the philosophy and framework for all the interventions proposed. This includes water recycling and treatment, organic waste recycling, clean and renewable energy producing. The project also includes awareness campaigns, citizen participation and the collection of quantitative data on the concept of Food Miles, that is the amount of miles food travels until it reaches our plate.