The Aquaframe project strives to address issues of food security and accessibility through a careful re-imagination of the way food is sold. The ultimate goal is to encourage consumers to take a more active role in the food system. This is acheived through a three-tiered approach looking at the cultural, socio-economic and technological barriers facing American consumers today. To disassemble the cultural barriers to healthy eating, the project must compete with fast-food establishments while encouraging more people to prepare their own meals. At the socio-economic level, there must be opportunities to openly participate in the food system, with little or no barriers to entry. This means shifting from large, corporate, economies of scale-type operations to smaller, more local, cooperative initiatives which focus on the health of the community as opposed to the financial bottom line. The technological aspect deals with how the current state of food retail disillusions consumers as to the true origins of their food. This is accomplished through on-site production of several varieties of fish and vegetables, coupled with an architectural materialization that communicates transparency. More than mere supermarket, the Aquaframe typology houses food production, preparation, distribution, and consumption in the footprint of a medium-sized American grocery store.
The real-life “test-case” of the typology is located in Athens, Ga, U.S.A. at a controversial location that was originally intended as an urban format for a large food-retail brand. While in the end, that brand failed to realize their store, there is still a need for a grocery store servicing the city’s diverse urban population. The chosen site is unique not only for its historic and cultural significance, but also because of its proximity to the city center, the local university campus, the main public transport hub, and a wide-range of socioeconomic classes who live within walking distance. The choice of Athens as a location is itself significant, as it is the author’s hometown.