The Hybridization of Food Spaces: Changing Spatial Logics in Urban Food Systems and Prospects for Sustainable Diets

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On the consumption end of the food supply chain, cities have leverage to spatially facilitate sustainable food system transformations and accommodate sustainable diets. However, developing the appropriate architecture implied in such a feat, i.e., creating the adequate spatial conditions for sustainable urban food practices, is first predicated on understanding the existing spatial logics operating at the core of contemporary urban food practices and food spaces. This paper aims to contribute to this understanding, by identifying and conceptualising some of these changing spatial logics. Through a series of observations across four domains - cyberspace, retail spaces, the domestic realm and compound food spaces – the study finds that several 21st-century constructs, such as online food purchasing, the connected kitchen or the diversified supermarket, exhibit entirely novel spatial logics in organising urban food practices and the physical reality around them. As a key finding of the analyses, this paper introduces the term ‘hybridization of food spaces’, linking two overarching patterns identified: how 21st-century urban food space typologies increasingly show signs of functional diversification in their physical layouts, as well as ways of merging with virtual platforms. Finally, the paper considers the design and strategic potential that this hybridization presents. How blurring the boundaries between traditionally conceived spatial/functional domains, as well as shortening urban food supply chains may contribute to the physical facilitation of sustainable urban practices around food, and ultimately, sustainable diets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-118
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • food spaces
  • sustainable diets
  • spatial hybridization
  • foodscapes


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