Vibrant, transit oriented, mixed use, & goats…. Imagine cities for both banker and bee to thrive. The design inspiration for CityGarden stems from the desire to demonstrate living urban in a way that embraces the traditional, albeit often-forgotten, values of accessible, fresh, and healthy food.
Architect: Libby Haslam
Team Members: Libby Haslam, Chamonix Larsen
Country: United States
MISSION CityGarden is an urban agriculture incubator. Occupied by a non-profit, whose missions is to empower people of all walks & ages to grow and eat local organic food, this center provides living, working and growing space. The site is designed to entice the community to explore a dynamic garden on a radiant southern exposure while the building helps knit the urban fabric on a prominent corner of a neighborhood in various stages of revitalization. The site and architecture create topography where solar value assessed. Surfaces are considered for daylight to interiors, possible energy generation, but more so for planting. Visual effect of the plants is second to the need for plantings to be harvested by simple means, and to offset the “growable” area disturbed by the building and other hardscape.
DESIGN The building form takes cues from the historical language of the industrial buildings in the surrounding granary district to create something that is recognizable and compelling. Lower levels enhance the streetscape with office/workshop space. A plaza on the main frontage blurs the inside/outside activities inherent in growing, preparing and preserving food. Visitors can learn about starts, borrow tools, attend a class, smell the greenhouse, learn to can and preserve a harvest, or eat a neighborhood meal comprised of food grown and prepared within yards of the table. A kitchen is ready to serve the food entrepreneur ready to take recipes from home to farmers market to restaurant.
Upper levels offer modern residential townhomes, fresh food within an arms length, and views to seasonal biodiversity, where what is typical is lifeless paving or rooftop equipment. Residents are liberating from economic burdens of owning and operating a car by car-sharing and the direct access to an artery of the city’s light rail transit.
EXPERIENCE The curious passer-by is drawn into CityGarden by the architecture and activity of a plaza sited under a narrow arm that seems to be supported by the flora that emerges around the columns. It provides a gathering forum that is visibly connected and experienced from the main street rather than tucked behind the building. In the summer the shade appeals, and in the winter even a sidewalk-er feels the warmth of the sun. CityGarden offers a place for one to buy or trade produce, lunch on the wares of a local food truck, visit the garden, swap seeds, teach a child to plant a tomato, and most of all create community in an evolving neighborhood.