Since the re-settlement programs and the cod moratorium in Newfoundland, rural residents have migrated en masse to urban areas. As they move to cities, their connection to food production is diminished as farms are abandoned and reliance on exported goods is increased. Newfoundland’s island condition has exacerbated the issue causing a shortage of fresh produce leading to significant health issues and a loss of connection to rural roots. The people who move to larger cities in Newfoundland are not only leaving their family homes, gardens, and root cellars, they are leaving their communities. Through this urban migration the next generation of Newfoundland is losing the collective memory of these deep, culturally rich practices: the Root Cellars that allowed them food security, community and sustainability.
In today’s era of climate crisis, skills that support food security, food storage, and passive energy use are ever-more critical and cannot be left in the past. This thesis aims to revive this collective community knowledge by reinterpreting the root cellar into a semi-urban building shared amongst the St. John's community. The all familiar corner store is a fixture in both small Newfoundland towns as well as the city of St. John’s. Acting as a community hub, the corner store allows for communities to gather in social exchange. However, corner stores are greatly disconnected to regional farms and local food supply throughout Newfoundland. By combining the strengths of both the traditional Newfoundland root cellar and the corner store, a new form of corner store can be designed to create a more sustainable, passive and community-based hub that centers around food security. This thesis project translates the root cellar into an existing corner store located in the heart of the city of St. John’s. The corner store root cellar becomes a place for passing down local food growing and storing knowledge.