Posts tagged with "Urban Farming":

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Archtober Building of the Day: Brooklyn Grange Farm

This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today’s Archtober Building of the Day tour took us to Brooklyn Grange, located on top of Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 3. Once we had assembled on the 11th floor, with its sweeping views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines, Gwen Schantz, co-founder and CEO, took us around the intimate yet extraordinarily productive farm. Schantz, who heads the farm’s landscaping division, revealed not only the specific agricultural details of the farm but also how they have managed to turn urban agriculture into a viable business model. Brooklyn Grange’s roots date to 2009, when Ben Flanner, now president, quit his job in finance to open Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn. One year later, joined by Schantz and other partners, he opened the organization’s permanent foothold in Long Island City; they soon after added the location in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The organization has since become a worldwide leader in urban agriculture efforts. Central to Brooklyn Grange’s mission is to do more than just grow food. Schantz went so far as to describe it primarily as an educational center, facilitated by City Growers, an educational nonprofit that Brooklyn Grange (which is for-profit) founded but has since spun off. Schantz emphasized that it would be extremely difficult to turn a profit solely by selling produce, but that Brooklyn Grange stays financially feasible by designing gardens and landscapes and hosting events. Rather than seeing these aspects as a necessary evil, Schantz described them as equal to the agriculture department. Brooklyn Grange’s goal, she said, was to show that urban agriculture can be a viable enterprise—a goal which has been amply met. As we walked around the farm, Schantz described the its physical makeup. The farm uses a soil mix of 50 percent is expanded shale, which is put in a kiln and broken up slightly to be porous, almost like coral. This allows small organisms to live in the soil, a central aspect of organic farming. The other 50 percent of the soil is a compost mix sourced from mushroom farms in Pennsylvania. Schantz said that Brooklyn Grange have found they can grow almost any crop in about a foot of soil—a surprisingly thin layer. That is not to say that they do grow any crop. Brooklyn Grange focuses on more profitable crops, primarily lettuce. However, since selling directly to the community is an important part of Brooklyn Grange’s mission, and since crop rotation is a key aspect of organic farming, they do plant other crops as well, such as tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli. During the off-season, employees organize events and work on the other elements of the farm. According to Schantz, the roof of Building 3 is perfect for a farm, as it was used to support extensive Navy training installations and is therefore extremely strong. To create the farm, a large hose connected to a mixer truck sprayed the roof with the first layer of soil. To augment that original soil, Brooklyn Grange regularly brings additional soil up in the freight elevator, another useful original feature. Along with the mushroom farm compost, other compost mixes come from Brooklyn Navy Yard tenants such as chocolate makers Mast. Brooklyn Grange does far more than grow food. It keeps bees at hives around the city, too. It serves an essential function by absorbing rainfall, relieving the burden on the city’s overtaxed stormwater management system. It educates schoolchildren from around the city about food and farming. It designs other landscapes. It hosts events ranging from dinner parties to weddings. And, most importantly, it has shown that you can make a business out of urban agriculture.
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Urban farming in New York could get easier with this new bill

For all of its concrete buildings, New York City actually has the largest urban agriculture system in the country thanks to its community, rooftop, and vertical gardens. The city has no shortage of prime roof real estate—14,000 acres to be exact.

Despite this a wealth of potential for the city’s urban agriculture future, restrictions in zoning and a lack of regulation have stymied the growth of the practice. A new bill submitted to City Council last Thursday by Councilman Rafael Espinal and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hopes to change that, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Calling for updated zoning and building codes, they are pushing for a comprehensive plan that will do more than increasing food production: the bill aims to help create more jobs, improve access to fresh produce, and fight climate change by reducing the need for food transport.

Espinal, who recently co-sponsored a bill to abolish the city’s cabaret lawsaid that the city “must create a comprehensive urban agriculture plan in order to deal with the challenges of today and tomorrow.” He also said that urban farming has the potential to address the relationship between climate change and social inequality, where food deserts in low-income communities can be transformed into food farms.

The city’s current zoning codes largely ignore farming practices in the city and do not mention hydroponic systems (where plants grow in a water-based solution as opposed to soil), according to the WSJ. Only nonresidential districts are allowed to have rooftop gardens and the fragmented regulation is a “barrier to entry,” said Jason Green, co-founder of EdenWorks, an aquaponic company in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to the WSJ.

By growing crops on roofs, the sides of buildings, or in vertically stacked layers indoors, food can be mass produced in a way that helps save energy and time, all while accommodating to the city’s increasing population. ‘Traditional’ farming (on the ground) faces growing challenges due to climate change, and urban agriculture is “the wave of the future,” according to Adams.

Neighboring Newark, New Jersey is already one step ahead, having changed its zoning code to include urban agriculture language. The city is now home to AeroFarms, the world's largest indoor vertical farm.

Espinal and Adam's bill will also feature an urban agriculture plan—to be developed by the Department of City Planning—that addresses land use policy. The plan will be submitted next year. The pair have also raised the possibility of developing a separate office of urban agriculture.

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Charles Waldheim on the “profound implications” on urban farming for cities today

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) has partnered with urbanNext to share articles on common topics every two weeks. This week, we’re pairing the urbanNext article below with AN’sTravel through space-time with the NYPL’s new map tool.”
The agrarian and the urban are two categories of thought that have more often than not been opposed to one another. Across many disciplines, and for many centuries, the city and the country have been called upon to define one other through binary opposition. Contemporary design culture and discourse on cities are, by contrast, awash in claims of the potential for urban agriculture. Enthusiasm for agricultural production in and around cities has grown through an increased environmental literacy on behalf of designers and scholars. Equally this renewed interest in the relation of food production to urban form has been made possible by increased public literacy about food and the forms of industrial food production and distribution that characterize globalization. This renewed interest in food production and consumption has been shaped by a variety of authors and interests, but has been most forcefully felt as a call for more renewable or sustainable agricultural practices associated with local food production, reduced carbon footprint, increased public health, and the associated benefits of pre-industrial farming techniques including increased biodiversity and ecological health. These tendencies have been most clearly articulated through the so-called ‘slow food’ and ‘locavore’ movements. While much has been written on the implications of these tendencies for agricultural production, public policy, and food as an element of culture, little has been written on the potentially profound implications of these transformations for the shape and structure of the city itself. Much of the enthusiasm for slow and local food in the context of urban populations has been predicated on the assumption that abandoned or underused brownfield sites could be remediated and repurposed with productive potential. Equally, this enthusiasm for urban agriculture has been based on the rededication of greenfield sites peripheral to the city, focusing valuable ecological assets on food production rather than suburban sprawl. While both of these remain viable and laudable goals, they shed little light on the implications of such transformations on the shape and the structure of urban form. For those interested in the city as an object of study and subject of design, this suggests the need for further inquiry into the possibilities for an agricultural urbanism. This essay proposes a history of urban form conceived through the spatial, ecological, and infrastructural implications of agricultural production. In the projects that form this tentative counter-history, agricultural production is conceived as a formative element of the city’s structure, rather than being considered adjunct to, outside of, or inserted within traditional urban forms. While this may remain an alternative or even marginal counter- history, it may be useful as architects and urbanists grapple with the implications for urban form attendant to their renewed interest in the agricultural. This alternative history of the city seeks to construct a useful past from three urban projects organized explicitly around agricultural production as inherent to the economic, ecological, and spatial order of the city. Much of the enthusiasm for slow and local food in the context of urban populations has been predicated on the assumption that abandoned or underused brownfield sites could be remediated and repurposed with productive potential. Equally, this enthusiasm for urban agriculture has been based on the rededication of greenfield sites peripheral to the city, focusing valuable ecological assets on food production rather than suburban sprawl. While both of these remain viable and laudable goals, they shed little light on the implications of such transformations on the shape and the structure of urban form. For those interested in the city as an object of study and subject of design, this suggests the need for further inquiry into the possibilities for an agricultural urbanism. This essay proposes a history of urban form conceived through the spatial, ecological, and infrastructural implications of agricultural production. In the projects that form this tentative counter-history, agricultural production is conceived as a formative element of the city’s structure, rather than being considered adjunct to, outside of, or inserted within traditional urban forms. While this may remain an alternative or even marginal counter- history, it may be useful as architects and urbanists grapple with the implications for urban form attendant to their renewed interest in the agricultural. This alternative history of the city seeks to construct a useful past from three urban projects organized explicitly around agricultural production as inherent to the economic, ecological, and spatial order of the city.
Many projects of 20th-century urban planning explicitly aspired to construct an agrarian urbanism. Often these agrarian aspirations were an attempt to reconcile the seemingly contradictory impulses of the industrial metropolis with the social and cultural conditions of agrarian settlement. In many of these projects, agrarianism offered an alternative to the dense metropolitan form of industrial arrangement that grew from the great migrations from farm village to industrial city in the 19th- and early 20th-century cities of Western Europe and North America. The agrarian aspirations of many modernist urban planning proposals originate in the relatively decentralized model of industrial order favored by Henry Ford and other industrialists as early as the 1910s and 20s. Following Ford’s organizational preference for spatial decentralization, industrial organizations tended to spread horizontally and abandon the traditional industrial city. In part as a response to the social conditions of the Depression era, agrarianism came to be seen as a form of continuity between formerly agrarian populations based on subsistence farming and the relatively vulnerable industrial workforce of the modern metropolis.By mixing industry with agriculture, many modernist urban planners imagined a rotational labor system in which workers alternated between factory jobs and collective farms. Most of- ten these new spatial orders were understood as vast regional landscapes, and their representation conflated aerial view and orthographic map. The emergence of these tendencies in the twentieth century might be read through three unbuilt projects advocating a decentralized agrarian urbanism: Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Broadacre City” (1934-35), Ludwig Hilberseimer’s “New Regional Pattern” (1945-49), and Andrea Branzi’s “Agronica” (1993-94) or “Territory for the New Economy” (1999). [1] While these projects were produced decades apart by three very different authors, taken collectively they illustrate the implications for urban form of agricultural production as inherent to the structure of the city. These projects also form a coherent genealogy of thought on the subject of agricultural urbanism as Branzi explicitly references Hilberseimer’s urban proposals, and Hilberseimer’s work was informed by familiarity with Wright’s urban project. Each of the projects presented their audiences with a profound reconceptualization of the city, proposing radical decentralization and dissolution of the urban figure into a productive landscape. The dissolution of figure into field rendered the classical distinction between city and countryside irrelevant in favor of a conflated condition of suburbanized regionalism. From the perspective of contemporary interests in urban agriculture, both tendencies offer equally compelling alternatives to the canonical history of urban form. Implicit in the work of these three urbanists was the assumption of an ongoing process of urban decentralization led by an industrial economy. For Wright, Hilberseimer, and Branzi, the decreased density produced through the new industrial logic of decentralization came to depend upon landscape as the primary medium of urban form. These suburban landscapes were embodied and fleshed out with agricultural lands, farms, and fields. These projects proposed large territorial or regional networks of urban infrastructure bringing existing natural environments into relationship with new agricultural and industrial landscapes. Broadacres / Usonia In the depths of the Depression, lacking reasonable prospects for a recovery of his once-towering stature as the dean of American architects, Frank Lloyd Wright persuaded his lone remaining patron to fund a traveling exhibition of Wright’s conception of an organic American urbanism. Broadacre City, as it was referred to, consisted of a large model and supporting materials produced by student apprentices at Taliesin in the winter of 1934-35. While the premises underpinning the project were evident in Wright’s lectures as early as the 1920s and fully informed Wright’s 1932 publication The Disappearing City, the Broadacre model and drawings were not debuted until a 1935 New York City exhibition. Subsequently, the traveling exhibition toured extensively and the remarkably durable project was further disseminated in subsequent publications including When Democracy Builds (1945) and The Living City (1958). [2] Broadacre City offered American audiences the clearest crystallization of Wright’s damning critique of the modern industrial city, positing Broadacre as an autochthonous organic model for North American settlement across an essentially boundless carpet of cultivated landscape. Eschewing traditional European distinctions between city and countryside, Broadacre proposed a network of transportation and communication infrastructures using the Jeffersonian grid as its principal ordering system. Within this nearly undifferentiated field, the county government (headed by the county architect) replaced other levels of government administering a population of landowning citizen-farmers. Wright was clearly conversant with and sympathetic to Henry Ford’s notion of a decentralized settlement pattern for North America and the closest built parallel for Wright’s work on Broadacre can be found in Ford’s instigation of what would become the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). As an autonomous public agency, TVA was charged with the construction of hydro-electric dams and highways along the Tennessee River in the electrification of an entire region as a seeding process for future urbanization. [3] Enjoying ownership of one acre of land per person as a birthright, residents of Broadacre (or Usonia, as Wright would come to refer to it) were to enjoy modern houses set in relation to ample subsistence gardens and small-scale farms. This basic pattern of variously scaled housing and landscape types was interspersed with light industry, small commercial centers and markets, civic buildings, and of course the ubiquitous highway. In spite of the project’s extremely low density, most of the ground was cleared and cultivated. Occasionally this constructed and maintained landscape relented in favor of extant waterways, topographic features, or other pre-existing ecologies. Presumably the extrapolation of Broadacre City from its chiefly middle-western origins to the margins of the continent would have been accomplished with varying degrees of accommodation to local climate, geography, and geology, if not cultural or material history. The status of previously urbanized areas existing outside of Wright’s Broadacre remained an open question; presumably these would be abandoned in place, again following Ford’s lead in this regard. Wright’s critique of private ownership, conspicuous consumption, and accumulation of wealth associated with cities was no small part of the explicit social critique offered by Broadacre, as the worst of the Depression forced bankrupt family farmers to flee their mortgaged farms in the midwest for protest in the east or California in the west. Ironically, given his anxiety over the corrosive effects of accumulated wealth and speculative capital, Wright found in Ford’s notion of regional infrastructure the basis for an American pattern of organic urban development. Wright’s Broadacre provided a respite from the relentless demands of profit associated with the industrial city, even as the American city was well on a course toward decentralization, driven by the tendencies of Fordist production. The New Regional Pattern / The New City Another modernist architect/urbanist grappling with the impacts of decentralization on urban form was Ludwig Hilberseimer. Born and educated in Karlsruhe, Germany, Hilberseimer worked with Mies van der Rohe at the Bauhaus until the rise of fascism precipitated their emigration to Chicago and the Armour Institute of Technology (later IIT) in 1938. While Hilberseimer is most notoriously known for his earlier studies for totalizing rationally-planned schemes of modern urbanism from the 1920s such as Hochhausstadt (Highrise City, 1924), Hilberseimer quickly abandoned those schemes in favor of projects that explored decentralization and land- scape as remedies to the ills of the industrial city. This was evident as early as 1927 in a sketch titled “The Metropolis as a Garden-City.” [4] Hilberseimer’s work over the course of the 1930s was clearly influenced by European precedents for the garden-city and evidenced a strategy for the use of landscape and mixed-height housing in a low-density pattern. This is a pattern that would continue to appear in his work in the U.S. over the ensuing decades. Particularly formative in this regard was Hilberseimer’s project for Mischbebauung (Mixed-height Housing, c. 1930), the principles of which would inform the balance of his career. Hilberseimer during this period was committed to the inevitable decentralization of the traditional city as the resultant of industrial policy. This tendency was evident to Hilberseimer as early as the 1920s in Henry Ford’s decision to relocate industrial production outside the city of Detroit in the previous decade. By the 1940s, Hilberseimer’s notion of the “settlement unit” took clearer form through anticipating the development of an interstate highway system and articulating precise relation- ships between transportation networks, settlement units, and the regional landscape. Hilberseimer’s interest in an organic urbanism for North America was further fueled by civil defense imperatives encouraging decentralization in the years following the war. [5] In the wake of Hiroshima, Hilberseimer adapted his proposals to anticipate the construction of the interstate high- way system as a civil defense infrastructure and an extension of Fordist production logics. In this context —– and conversant with Wright’s Broadacre City as well as the progressive TVA project and its proponents in the Regional Planning Association of America —– Hilberseimer developed his “New Regional Pattern” as a strategy for the urbanization of a low-density North American settlement pattern based on regional highway systems and natural environmental conditions. Hilberseimer disseminated his proposals through a publication: The New Regional Pattern: Industries and Gardens, Workshops and Farms (1949). The principles and analysis informing Hilberseimer’s project was published prior to the project itself in The New City: Principles of Planning (1944) and was disseminated a decade later in The Nature of Cities (1955). [6] As with Broadacre, the “New Regional Pattern” was organized around the distribution of transportation and communication networks across an essentially horizontal field of landscape. Within this extensive horizontal territory, housing, farms, light industry, commercial buildings, and civic spaces formed vari- ously scaled networks across a field of decentralized distribution. The organizational pattern of “New Regional Pattern” did not defer to the abstraction of the grid, but was informed by the natural environment; topography, hydrology, vegetation, wind patterns, among others. It conflated infrastructural systems with built landscapes and found environmental conditions to produce a radically reconceived settlement pattern for North America. While Hilberseimer’s exquisite drawings (many are the uncredited work of IIT colleague Alfred Caldwell) did not make an explicit case for the kind of ecological awareness apparent in contemporary landscape urbanism, they clearly inflected urban infrastructure to ambient environmental conditions. [7] In this regard, the project offers a profound critique of traditional nineteenth-century urban form, as well as the architectural and urban practices associated with that that persisted into the twentieth century. Agronica / Territory for the New Economy The work of the Italian architect and urbanist Andrea Branzi might be found equally relevant to the emergent discourse on agrarian urbanism. Branzi’s work reanimates a long tradition of using the urban project as a social and cultural critique. This form of urban projection deploys a project not simply as an illustration or ‘vision,’ but rather as a demystified distillation and description of our present urban predicaments. In this sense, Branzi’s urban projects can be read less as a utopian future possible world, and more as a critically engaged and politically literate delineation of the power structures, forces, and flows shaping the contemporary urban condition. Over the past four decades Branzi’s work has articulated a remarkably consistent critique of the social, cultural, and intellectual poverty of laissez-faire urban development and the realpolitik assumptions of much urban design and planning. As an alternative, Branzi’s projects propose urbanism in the form of an environmental, economic, and aesthetic critique of the failings of the contemporary city. Born and educated in Florence, Branzi studied architecture in the cultural milieu of the Operaists and the scholarly tradition of Marxist critique. Branzi first came to international visibility as a member of the collective Archizoom Associati (mid-1960s) based in Milano but associated with the Florentine Architettura Radicale movement. Archizoom’s project and texts for “No-Stop City” (1968-71) illustrate an urbanism of continuous mobility, fluidity, and flux. While “No-Stop City” was received on one level as a satire of the British technophile of Archigram, on another level it was an illustration of an urbanism without qualities, a representation of the ‘degree- zero’ conditions for urbanization. [8] Archizoom’s use of typewriter keystrokes on A4 paper to represent a non-figural planning study for “No-Stop City” anticipated contemporary interest in indexical and parametric formulations of the city. Their work prefigured the current interest in describing the relentlessly horizontal field conditions of the modern metropolis as a surface shaped by the strong forces of economic and ecological flows. Equally, these drawings and their texts anticipate current interest in infrastructure and ecology as non-figurative drivers of urban form. As such, a generation of contemporary urbanists has drawn from Branzi’s intellectual commitments. This diverse list of influence ranges from Stan Allen and James Corner’s interest in field conditions to Alex Wall and Alejandro Zaera-Polo’s interest in logistics. [9] More recently Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara’s project “Stop-City” directly references Branzi’s use of non-figurative urban projection as a form of social and political critique. [10] Branzi’s urban projects are equally available to inform contemporary interests within architectural culture and urbanism on a wide array of topics as diverse as animalia, indeterminacy, and genericity, among others. Branzi’s “No-Stop City” proposed an explicitly nonfigurative urbanism. In so doing, it renewed a longstanding tradition of non-figurative urban projects as a form of social critique. In this regard, Branzi’s “No-Stop City” draws upon the urban planning projects and theories of Ludwig Hilberseimer, particularly Hilberseimer’s “New Regional Pattern” and that project’s illustration of a proto-ecological urbanism. [11] Not coincidentally, both Branzi and Hilberseimer chose to illustrate the city as a continuous system of relational forces and flows, as opposed to a collection of objects. In this sense, the ongoing recuperation of Hilberseimer, and Branzi’s renewed relevance for discussions of contemporary urbanism render them particularly relevant to discussions of ecological urbanism. Andrea Branzi occupies a singular historical position as a hinge figure between the social and environmental aspirations of modernist planning of the post-war era and the politics of 1968 in which his work first emerged for English language audiences. As such, his work is particularly well suited to shed light on the emergent discussion around ecological urbanism. Branzi’s “Agronica” project (1993-94) illustrated the relentlessly horizontal spread of capital across thin tissues of territory, and the resultant ‘weak urbanization’ that the neoliberal economic paradigm affords. Agronica embodies the potential parallels between agricultural and energy production, new modalities of post-Fordist industrial economy, and the cultures of consumption that they construct. [12] More recently in 1999, Branzi (with the Domus Academy, a post-graduate research institute founded in the 1980s) executed a project for Philips in Eindhoven. These projects returned to the recurring themes in Branzi’s oeuvre with typical wit and pith, illustrating a “Territory for the New Economy” in which agricultural production was instrumental in deriving urban form. [13] Branzi’s ‘weak work’ maintains its critical and projective relevance for a new generation of urbanists interested in the economic and agricultural drivers of urban form. His longstanding call for the development of weak urban forms and non-figural fields has already influenced the thinking of those who articulated landscape urbanism over a decade ago and promises to reanimate emergent discussions of ecological urbanism. [14] Equally, Branzi’s projective and polemic urban propositions promise to shed light on agrarian urbanism, and its potential for shaping the contemporary city and the disciplines that describe it. While this brief pre-history of agricultural urbanism raises more questions than it answers, and may do little to convince contemporary readers of the efficacy of organizing the city in this way, it seems a useful (if not necessary) exercise in understanding the broader implications of contemporary food culture for the design disciplines. In this regard, it is significant that each of the three architect/urbanists presented here as pursuing an explicitly agricultural urbanism did so as part of a broader critical position engaged with economic inequality, social justice, and environmental health. Wright, Hilberseimer, and Branzi, each in their own way, embodied a longstanding tradition of using the urban project as a form of social critique in which the production and consumption of the city, its economy and ecology, are available as tools of analysis and critique. While Wright, Hilberseimer, and Branzi were responding to different economic and ecological contexts, each of them found the urban project an effective vehicle for critiquing the form of their contemporary cities, and the economic, social, and political orders that produced them.

This article appeared as "Notes Towards a History of Agrarian Urbanism" in urbanNext, and was first published in Bracket 1 [on Farming], 2010.
[1] Frank Lloyd Wright, The Living City (New York: Horizon Press, 1958); Ludwig Hilberseimer, The New Regional Pattern: Industries and Gardens, Workshops and Farms (Chicago: Paul Theobald & Co., 1949); Andrea Branzi, D. Donegani, A. Petrillo, and C. Raimondo, “Symbiotic Metropolis: Agronica” The Solid Side, ed. Ezio Manzini and Marco Susani (Netherlands: V+K Publishing / Philips, 1995), 101-120; and Andrea Branzi, “Preliminary Notes for a Master Plan,” and “Master Plan Strijp Philips, Eindhoven 1999.” Lotus, no. 107 (2000): 110-123. [2] The principles underpinning Wright’s Broadacre project were published in 1932 in Frank Lloyd Wright, Disappearing City (New York: W. F. Payson, 1932); and subsequently reformulated as When Democracy Builds (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945). For an historical overview of Broadacre’s influ- ences and contemporary reception, see Peter Hall, Cities of Tomorrow (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), 285-90. [3] For an overview of the Tennessee Valley Authority, see Walter Creese, TVA’s Public Planning (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990); and Peter Hall, Cities of Tomorrow, 161-3. [4] For an overview of the origins of Hilberseimer’s interpretation of the garden city, see David Spaeth, “Ludwig Hilberseimer’s Settlement Unit: Origins and Applications,” In the Shadow of Mies: Ludwig Hilberseimer, Architect, Educator, and Urban Planner, ed. Richard Pommer, David Spaeth, and Kevin Harrington (New York/Chicago: Rizzoli/Art Institute of Chicago, 1988), 54-68. [5] Hilberseimer and Caldwell advocated for decentralization as a civil defense strategy in the wake of Hiroshima. See Caldwell, “Atomic Bombs and City Planning,” Journal of the American Institute of Architects, vol. 4 (1945: 289-299); and also Hilberseimer, “Cities and Defense,” (c. 1945) reprinted in: In the Shadow of Mies: Ludwig Hilberseimer, Architect, Educator, and Urban Planner, ed. Richard Pommer, David Spaeth, and Kevin Harrington (New York/Chicago: Rizzoli/Art Institute of Chicago, 1988), 89-93. [6] Ludwig Hilberseimer, The New City: Principles of Planning (Chicago: Paul Theobald & Co., 1944); The Nature of Cities: Origin, Growth, and Decline, Pattern and Form, Planning Problems (Chicago: Paul Theobald & Co., 1955). [7] For a detailed account of Hilberseimer’s professional relationship with Caldwell, see Caroline Constant, “Hilberseimer and Caldwell: Merging Ideologies in the Lafayette Park Landscape,” CASE: Lafayette Park Detroit, ed. Charles Waldheim (Cambridge/Munich: Harvard/Prestel, 2004), 95-111. On Caldwell’s life and work, see Dennis Domer, Alfred Caldwell: The Life and Work of a Prairie School Landscape Architect (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997). [8] Archizoom Associates, “No-Stop City. Residential Parkings. Climatic Universal Sistem,” Domus 496 (March 1971): 49-55. For Branzi’s reflections on the project, see Andrea Branzi, “Notes on No-Stop City: Archizoom Associates 1969-1972,” Exit Utopia: Architectural Provocations 1956-1976, ed. Martin van Schaik and Otakar Macel, (Munich: Prestel, 2005), 177-182. For more recent scholarship on the project and its relations to contemporary architectural culture and urban theory, see Kazys Varnelis, “Programming After Program: Archizoom’s No-Stop City,” Praxis, no. 8 (May 2006): 82-91. [9] On field conditions and contemporary urbanism, see James Corner “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention,” Mappings ed. Denis Cosgrove (London: Reaktion Books, 1999), 213-300; and Stan Allen, “Mat Urbanism: The Thick 2-D,”CASE: Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital and the Mat Building Revival, ed. Hashim Sarkis (Munich: Prestel, 2001), 118-126. On logistics and contemporary urbanism, see Susan Nigra Snyder and Alex Wall, “Emerging Landscape of Movement and Logistics,” Architectural Design Profile, no.134 (1998): 16-21; and Alejandro Zaera Polo, “Order out of Chaos: The Material Organization of Advanced Capitalism,” Architec- tural Design Profile, no. 108 (1994): 24-29. [10] See Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara, “Architecture as Framework: The Project of the City and the Crisis of Neoliberal- ism,” New Geographies, no. 1 (September 2008): 38-51. [11] Ludwig Hilberseimer, The New Regional Pattern: Industries and Gardens, Workshops and Farms (Chicago: Paul Theobald, 1949). [12] Andrea Branzi, D. Donegani, A. Petrillo, and C. Raimondo, “Symbiotic Metropolis: Agronica” The Solid Side, ed. Ezio Manzini and Marco Susani (Netherlands: V+K Publishing / Philips, 1995), 101-120. [13] Andrea Branzi, “Preliminary Notes for a Master Plan,” and “Master Plan Strijp Philips, Eindhoven 1999” Lotus, no. 107 (2000): 110-123. [14] Andrea Branzi, “The Weak Metropolis,” Ecological Urbanism Conference, Harvard Graduate School of Design, April 4, 2009.
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Sasaki unveils design for 247-acre urban farming district in Shanghai

This article was originally published on ArchDaily as "Sasaki Unveils Design for Sunqiao, a 100-Hectare Urban Farming District in Shanghai." With nearly 24 million inhabitants to feed and a decline in the availability and quality of agricultural land, the Chinese megacity of Shanghai is set to realize the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District, a 100-hectare (247.1-acre) masterplan designed by Watertown, Massachusetts and Shanghai-based firm Sasaki Associates. Situated between Shanghai’s main international airport and the city center, Sunqiao will introduce large-scale vertical farming to the city of soaring skyscrapers. While primarily responding to the growing agricultural demand in the region, Sasaki’s vision goes further, using urban farming as a dynamic living laboratory for innovation, interaction, and education. Shanghai is an ideal city for vertical farming. High land prices make building upwards more economically viable than building outwards, while the demand for leafy greens in the typical Shanghainese diet can be met with efficient urban hydroponic and aquaponics systems. Sasaki’s master plan, therefore, deploys a range of urban-friendly farming techniques, such as algae farms, floating greenhouses, green walls, and vertical seed libraries. Sunqiao represents more than a factory for food production, however. Sasaki’s master plan creates a robust public realm, celebrating agriculture as a key component of urban growth. An interactive greenhouse, science museum, aquaponics showcase, and festival market signal an attempt to educate generations of children about where their food comes from. Meanwhile, sky plazas, office towers, and civic greens represent a desire to create a mixed-use, dynamic, active environment far removed from traditional, sprawling, rural farmlands. Sunqiao15 Sunqiao will not be an alien concept to Shanghai. Whereas western countries depend on large-scale, rural, corporate farming, small-scale agriculture has traditionally dominated Shanghai’s urban landscape. However, the scale of Sasaki’s approved scheme does indicate the increased value placed on China’s agriculture sector. China is the world’s biggest consumer and exporter of agricultural products, with the industry providing 22% of the country’s employment, and 13% of its Gross Domestic Product. The Chinese government is therefore keen to preserve, modernize, and showcase an industry which has helped to significantly reduce poverty rates, and has influenced the growth of the biotech and textile industries. "This approach actively supports a more sustainable food network while increasing the quality of life in the city through a community program of restaurants, markets, a culinary academy, and pick-your-own experience,” explained Sasaki in a press release. “As cities continue to expand, we must continue to challenge the dichotomy between what is urban and what is rural. Sunqiao seeks to prove that you can have your kale and eat it too.” News via: Sasaki Associates Written by Niall Patrick Walsh. Want more from ArchDaily? Like their Facebook page here. Archdaily_Collab_1
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Urban farming in suburban Phoenix becomes the basis for an entire community hub

While urban farming has become a great catchphrase, it has yet to take hold in a significant way in most American cities and suburbs. However, an excellent model for its progression is DSGN AGNC’s Spaces Of Opportunity, an 18-acre site in South Phoenix, Arizona, that is much more than just a place for growing: It’s also a community hub, an art center, and a music venue.

“The idea is that farming here is an excuse to bring services to this area,” said DSGN AGNC principal and founder Quilian Riano. “A way to bring economic opportunity.”

The semi-suburban area is home primarily to low- and middle-income Latino and African American populations. It’s also the site of a food desert, meaning that fresh food is very difficult to find. “There are more liquor stores than grocery stores here,” noted Riano.

DSGN AGNC’s master plan for the project, undertaken with the Desert Botanical Garden and a consortium of local nonprofits, called Cultivate South Phoenix, lays out segmented plots for community gardens and incubator farms. Master farmers will teach apprentices agrarian skills, helping them progress so they can get their own plots to work. Spaces in between the plots will be lined by rows of flowering fruit trees. The spaces along the edges of these plots will take on myriad uses, including washing and cleaning stations housed in repurposed shipping containers; compost and animal areas; a 500-person, colorful corrugated-metal and solar-panel-topped stage; playgrounds; an outdoor gym; and walls for art.

Work on the project is already underway, and Riano said he hopes it will be fully up and running by this coming summer or fall. Its creation involves an iterative process that Riano calls “design, wait, build.” In other words, the firm comes up with a plan, but then the community inevitably changes it to better meet their needs, and then the designers scramble to catch up with an adjusted plan.

“The community already moved faster than my previous design,” said Riano, referring to his early efforts to start growing on the site. “I had to rethink completely. The design is constantly re-questioned, rethought, and reworked.”

He hopes the project—both its content and its development—will become a model for future urban farms and for urban development in general. Incorporating so many types of uses has helped not only with interest, but also with fundraising. Already money has come in from local philanthropists and education and arts foundations.

“It’s a design that is very flexible and very participatory,” said Riano. “We’re using every angle.” The team also plans to coordinate with local schools, churches, and businesses to maximize participation and support.

Like many of DSGN AGNC’s initiative across the country, the project is also filled with learning lessons, like how to farm, how to build, and how to bring residents, designers, nonprofits, and city officials together. The firm’s other highly collaborative projects include Under El-Space Pilot, a pop-up park under the Gowanus Expressway in Queens; INPLACE, a community plan designed to bring urban art and design projects to Youngstown, Ohio; and La Casita Verde, a flexible community garden built on the site of a derelict lot in Brooklyn.

“It’s not just about building, but about rethinking the design process,” said Riano, of his diverse body of work. “Everybody learns, including me.”

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USDA awards Chicago $1 million urban agriculture grant

The City of Chicago has been awarded a $1 million federal grant to explore urban farming as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. The city’s grant proposal, entitled Growing for Chicago, aims to create a cohort-based model to help potential urban farmers establish businesses. The CIG is a competitive granting program that focuses on innovative approaches to conservation and agriculture. In 2016 alone, the program has granted $26.6 million to 45 projects across the country. Though Chicago’s program revolves around urban farming, most CIG grant-awarded projects tackle more typical agricultural issues in innovative ways. Growing for Chicago will help establish more land trusts and cooperative arrangements for urban farming while providing improved recruitment and training for historically under-served communities. The city will work specifically on an area near the future Rail Trail in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood. The program will also establish an urban agriculture coordinator. Outside of these primary missions, the city is also planning to explore the impact of urban farming in balancing environmental remediation, stormwater management, and water conservation. Interest in urban agriculture has seen a slow, but steady, increase in post-industrial Midwestern cities. Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and St. Louis all have extensive vacant residential and industrial land, which is often considered partially responsible for unstable economic situations. Chicago alone has over 15,000 empty lots. Programs like Sweet Water, in Chicago and Milwaukee, have taken vacant buildings and lots and transformed with agriculture and aquaculture, raising fish for food and fertilizer. Though growing in size, Sweet Water relies on community engagement, while providing youth and adult education in urban food production.
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The organization turning unused Chicago buildings into aquaponic fish farms

On Chicago’s far South Side, tucked into a postindustrial strip of Cottage Grove Avenue that hugs the Metra tracks, Sweet Water Foundation is farming fish in a former shoe warehouse. The story of urban farming as a tool for urban development is, perhaps unfortunately, cliché at this point. Emmanuel Pratt, Sweet Water's cofounder and executive director, would know: He came up under Will Allen, a MacArthur “genius” grantee and founder of Growing Power. Allen practically wrote the story and developed a much-lauded and effective framework for using farming as a tool for community and economic development. Like Growing Power, Sweet Water has operations in Chicago and Milwaukee that serve as community hubs, education centers for school groups, and employers for hundreds of youth. However, Pratt’s background in architecture and planning pushed him to take a different approach. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell and studied under Mark Wigley as a doctoral candidate in Columbia University’s Urban Planning program. He can weave a conversation seamlessly from the biology of farming and the science of aquaponics to the architecture of space and design. Pratt decided to form Sweet Water in 2011, because he saw farming as just one tool in the box of neighborhood revitalization. The organization’s “blight-to-life” approach uses the biological regenerative principles of nature to, in Pratt’s words, “invent new forms of building typologies.” “It’s all about programming and reprogramming. Space is the crux, and programming is the vehicle,” said Pratt. He describes the Aquaponics Innovation Center at the University of Wisconsin’s Stevens Point as a “tinkering shop.” Along with the 950-gallon tilapia tanks that cycle water to the vegetable beds and back, there is a full-scale wood shop run by a master carpenter, where farming infrastructure is built and participants learn design-build techniques using hand drawing, Rhino, and SketchUp. “It’s a playground. A place for imagination in a space of lost labor production, in an era of hypercapitalism,” said Pratt. Along with the Aquaponics Innovation Center and a similar operation in Milwaukee, Sweet Water owns a single-family house that sits alone on two acres of land in Englewood. Built on the site of a former youth correctional school during the housing boom, the house went into foreclosure during the recession. Now called the Think-Do House, Sweet Water converted the surrounding land into a working farm that feeds 200 people a week at peak growing season. The house has become a community center with workshops, classrooms, and a functioning kitchen. There is a view of the Willis Tower through the kitchen window. “The aesthetics and conditions of the built environment play a major role in a cultural otherness that is reinforced by patterns of development in the city,” said Pratt. “Neighborhoods like Englewood have a strong housing stock from the last 100 years. Tearing down buildings is not just erasure of culture and history, it’s also a matter of material and soil waste.” Sweet Water sees buildings as part of the ecological system of a neighborhood. “We look at the relationship between water, light, soil, plants, buildings, and culture as a closed circuit,” said Pratt. A combination of geography, demography, and work that straddles the intersection of urban development, architecture, and community beg comparisons to flashier examples of South Side redevelopment, such as Theaster Gates’s top-down, development-as-conceptual-art project or Amanda Williams’s building-as-beacon Colored Project. However, Pratt said that Sweet Water’s bottom-up, asset-based relationship approach looks at revitalization as “not just about the economy of a neighborhood, but about the ecosystem as well.” It may not be as sexy, but it’s working. And Sweet Water’s footprint is growing. Directly across the alley from the Think-Do House sits the historic Raber House, a landmarked building owned by the city. Pratt told AN that Sweet Water is currently in talks with Ross Barney Architects, Latent Design, DMK Restaurants, and the Illinois Institute of Technology’s architecture department to recover the property for the neighborhood’s use. “Building neighborhoods and the business of development are at odds,” said Pratt. “Architecture has the power to negotiate that, but there is a race for architects to catch up to their role.”
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SPARK’s “Home Farm” Typology Addresses Food Security and a Rapidly Aging Population in Singapore

SPARK’s recent conceptual project in Singapore is a bold interpretation of the city-state’s vision to be a “city in a garden.” Aptly called “Home Farm,” the project addresses Singapore’s rapidly aging population, proposing a combination of high-density senior housing and vertical urban farming. With over 90 percent of its food imported, Singapore faces serious challenges, especially given the substantial demographic shift currently underway. SPARK attempts to tackle these issues with the Home Farm typology, which aims to achieve not only food security, but also healthy and environmentally sustainable living conditions for seniors. The Home Farm design features stacked housing units within a curvilinear structure that wraps around a verdant central plaza featuring a produce market, library, and health center. The structure adapts a simple aquaponic system, and mimics a terraced farm landscape in both form and function, with leafy green vegetables growing on building facades and rooftops. The vegetable gardens provide not only a source of food production, but also a way for seniors to become economically self-sufficient. Currently, surveys have revealed that seniors in Singapore are experiencing financial inadequacy. Additionally, chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and arthritis are common. At Home Farm, jobs for seniors could include planting, harvesting, sorting, and packing; remuneration of resident workers could include payment of salary, offsetting rental or utilities bills, offsetting healthcare costs at the on-site clinic, or free produce. Gardening activity would also offer numerous benefits beyond personal income generation, including community connectivity and the promotion of health. The sustainable, mixed-use development is in line with SPARK's vision of “stitching the spaces of the city into our buildings, and of unfolding our buildings into the city.” “We designed this concept for Singapore, but there is the potential for it to be applied in any location that would support the growth of leafy green vegetables on building facades and rooftops,” said SPARK Director Stephen Pimbley. “We are keen to see this project materialize at some point in the future. The concept is a realizable solution to real and pressing problems faced by many of the world’s growing cities.”
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Farming Detroit: City considers expanding urban agriculture to include raising and slaughtering livestock

Adding to its normal population of lions and tigers, Detroit may be gaining a whole new demographic of furry inhabitants if proposed legislation passes in the spring allowing urban farmers to keep livestock in the city limits. In many American cities urban agriculture means community gardens set up in empty lots. Detroit is no exception in this respect, but things might be getting a little more rural soon in the Motor City. After a year-long initiative to discuss the potential of urban farming throughout urban centers in Michigan, new legislation may be put before the local government as early as next spring concerning urban agriculture. The issue at hand is a question of raising, breeding, and slaughtering livestock in city limits, greatly expanding the definition of urban agriculture. Currently keeping livestock in the city of Detroit is illegal. This has not stopped many from keeping chickens, ducks, and occasionally a few goats. Advocates of urban livestock point out the many advantages of urban agriculture, along with the addition of benefits that only come with keeping animals. Though community gardens have the capacity to produce no small amount of fresh vegetables, as well as providing a community developments space, livestock are able to produce meat, eggs, and milk, all while keeping overgrown abandoned lots trimmed through grazing. Opponents to the idea of keeping animals in the city cite concerns about health and safety of the public as well as the animals. With empty lots often strewn with litter, broken glass, or building ruins, some have concerns that animals will be in danger. Addressing the concerns of both sides of the issue was the task of an urban livestock working group set up in 2014. The 20-member urban livestock working group was formed specifically to discuss the possibility to allowing livestock in urban centers around Michigan. Cities such as Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti already allow limited livestock, and were used as examples by the group. Made up of state and local government representatives, farmers, environmentalists, and veterinarians, the group looked at economic, health and welfare, and land use issues. One of the pressing concerns of all sides of the discussion was the care of the animals. With many urbanites not familiar with raising and caring for animals, the future legislation is planned to have considerations for ensuring that animals are not neglected or mistreated. The legislation will also most likely set limits on the types and numbers of animals allowed. The large number of empty lots in Detroit, as well as in other post-industrial cities, have long been a discussion for urban planners hoping to revitalize blighted neighborhoods. With new ideas of how cities can define themselves through local production and self-sufficiency, many feel urban agriculture is a logical solution. And many also believe there is nowhere better than Detroit, a city built on production innovation, to experiment with an ancient occupation in new ways.
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HOK-founder Gyo Obata grows a new agriculture museum for the St. Louis Science Center

The St. Louis Science Center is adding its first new major exhibition space in 25 years with the 2016 summer opening of GROW, a permanent interactive agriculture exhibit. The exhibition design by Oakland, California–based Gyroscope will be complemented by a pavilion designed by HOK founder Gyo Obata along with St. Louis–based design firm Arcturis. The Agriculture Pavilion, the main interior space of the project, takes formal cues from typical farming implements, such as plow blades or scythes. The building will house exhibitions, event space, and a set of underground classrooms forming the Ag Learning Center. The 50,000-square-foot, $7.3-million-dollar, project focuses on the latest in agricultural technology, economics, science, and culture. Many of the 40 planned exhibits, much like their topic, will change seasonally, highlighting the growing and harvest cycles of the Midwest. “This will explore new ideas, new thoughts, and new ways of looking at things. And they’ll change with some level of frequency,” explained Bert Vescolani, CEO and president of the Science Center, in a statement. The main focus of exhibits in this space will be on agronomics and the relationship of produce, commodities, and consumer practices affecting the food supply. Every aspect of the pavilion is also designed to contribute to the learning environment, to include bathrooms which graphically interpret water resources. The project sits on the former site of the now-deflated Exploradome, and will include indoor and outdoor exhibits. Along with working farming equipment such as tractors and automated milking machines, live chickens, honey bees, and a working greenhouse will allow visitors to get their hands dirty learning about backyard farming. The greenhouse will include hydroponics and aquaponics, using live fish in a closed system of feeding, fertilizing, and growing food. The Fermentation Station will highlight the farm to mug journey of beer, in a working brewery, along with cheese and wine making. Other spaces include an orchard, two beehive areas, a seed library, large scale photographic farming map of Missouri and Illinois, and a Rain Cloud Room, where it rains every day, rain or shine.
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Archtober Building of the Day 8> The NYCHA Red Hook West Urban Farm

The NYCHA Red Hook West Urban Farm 6 Wolcott Street, Brooklyn thread collective A gaggle of green-thumbed Archtober enthusiasts joined thread collective’s Elliott Maltby and Gita Nandan to learn about the NYCHA Red Hook West Urban Farm. Situated in Brooklyn, the one acre plot has served as a model for other farms being developed on New York Housing Authority properties, including at Howard Houses in Brownsville and in Coney Island. While the lessons learned in the past three years have eased the way for these projects, each community has its own set of needs and will come up with unique solutions. In its pre-farm days, the site served as an open space that was largely unkempt, although a “tree zoo”—a small gated area with trees—had been put in place to make the lot more welcoming. While no planned walkways crossed the field, desire lines, eroded paths created by people moving along their daily lives, helped guide the design. Rather than planting rectangular beds parallel to the street, thread collective worked on a diagonal to recreate the paths that had developed naturally over time. Americorps team members, all of whom come from the community, talk with residents regularly—people are still learning about the farm every day.  Green City Force and thread collective worked to keep the space accessible to all to encourage community ownership and involvement. When asked if they have ever had a problem with people coming in and picking vegetables for their own use, John Cannizzo of Green City Force explained that while he doesn’t count every tomato, the nobody takes advantage. And if someone really can’t put food on the table, he hopes that they will come and take what they need. None of the produce is sold. Instead, the weekly farmers market is run as an exchange program in which residents volunteer their time or trade compost for freshly-picked vegetables at a pound-for-pound rate. Cooking demonstrations inspire experimentation in the kitchen, and Americorps team members check in with residents to ensure that they are growing the produce that the community wants. We turned the tour into a double feature, heading next to the nearby Red Hook Community Farm. This three acre plot, which is run by Added Value with the support of Green City Force and a coterie of interns and volunteers, processes compost and runs a CSA and farmers’ market. Nefratia Coleman, a CSA intern whose interest in food began at the NYCHA Red Hook West Farm, took us through the process of composting. Neatly arranged piles maximize airflow and capture heat to decompose the product without attracting vermin or smelling up the farm, which is teeming with interns and volunteers throughout the year. The farm and CSA program took a huge hit in 2012 when Sandy ravaged the land; water from both the East River and the Gowanus Canal rendered that year’s crop unusable.  The sanitation department cleaned it up, and the farm was replanted, this time a few feet above its original level. Corey, a staff member of Green City Force explained that the farm serves as a “vehicle to educate, empower, and train young people.” While the interns won’t necessary use their composting skills in future jobs, the leadership abilities they cultivate here will carry them forward in the future. Julia Cohen is the Archtober Coordinator at the Center for Architecture.
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New Detroit urban arts venue Wasserman Projects set to open September 25

“Detroit is not having a renaissance,” philanthropist Gary Wasserman proclaimed in the Bushwick, Brooklyn studio space of painter Markus Linnenbruck, “It is an entirely new expression of urbanism.” With the sun pouring in through large, iron-frame windows, he introduced the concept for his new Detroit arts venue. Cities, he says, are “the 21st century frontier,” not the West or Space. “Detroit is not the only city to fail, but it is the biggest,” he said, noting that the city was once over 2 million people, but is now down to 600,000 or so. This has left massive amounts of transportation infrastructure, cultural infrastructure, and housing redundant and abandoned. In this landscape, the city needs more places to sustain urban activity. Wasserman wants to create “a destination providing something of interest that becomes another thread in the urban fabric,” he explained. Wasserman Projects will be located in an old 5,000 square-foot fire station in Detroit’s Eastern Market district and will open on September 25th during the Detroit Design Festival. The new arts hub is expected to spur artistic interaction and development. The space will grow to 9,000 square-feet in the coming months, and will eventually include a kunsthalle, chamber concert hall, a gallery, an artist’s residency, a studio space, and a permanent installation of The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, which is the work of Belgian artist Koen Vanmechlen. He breeds national symbolic chickens as a metaphor for human diversity. The opening exhibition will be a collection of paintings by Linnenbruck, shown in a pavilion designed by Miami architect Nick Gelpi. The pavilion is a large wooden structure that splits open to reveal a glossy, colorful interior painted by Linnenbruck. The two halves become an acoustic space for performance.