WORKac is building New York City’s fi rst Edible Schoolyard in collaboration with Edible Schoolyard NYC, a founding affi liate of the Edible Schoolyard Project, which was started by Alice Waters in Berkeley, California, and P.S. 216, the Arturo Toscanini School in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Supported by the City of New York and the NYC School Construction Authority, WORKac is excited to be a part of Edible Schoolyard NYC’s fi rst new construction project.
With one of the lowest percentages of open, green space in Brooklyn, Gravesend was a natural choice for the inaugural showcase Edible Schoolyard. All of P.S. 216’s 625 students work with Edible Schoolyard NYC’s professional garden and kitchen teachers in separate experiential garden and kitchen classes that are aligned with the common core curriculum and integrated into the school day. WORKac and Edible Schoolyard NYC transformed a half-acre of the existing parking lot into a thriving organic garden.
To ensure a true four-seasons garden experience for the students, WORKac incorporated a greenhouse together with the indoor kitchen classroom in Gravesend to allow classes to continue through the winter. The building is composed of three major components, each of which is articulated through the use of different materials: the greenhouse is a polycarbonate and aluminum structure; the steel-framed kitchen classroom is clad in a pixilated pattern of colored shingles; and a “Systems Wall” at the rear is articulated as a series of playful volumes covered in a bright blue rubber coating.
The Kitchen Classroom provides space for up to thirty students to prepare and enjoy meals with vegetables harvested from the school’s organic garden as well as offi ce space for Edible Schoolyard NYC to accommodate on-site staff.
The façade of the kitchen classroom is clad in a low-cost material – cementitious shingles, which are reinterpreted as pixels and utilized in a tighter than usual pattern to make a graphic fl ower pattern inspired by Venturi Scott Brown’s BEST façade.
The façade also shapes the interior space through the placement of porthole windows and circular skylights at the center of the fl owers, creating a dynamic and fun atmosphere. Inside the Kitchen Classroom, cabinets lining the walls are painted in a thirteen color gradient based on the colors of the façade.
The Systems Wall condenses all of the building’s systems into one zone to make visible both site-wide and building-specific systems. The building’s shape is designed to maximize the collection of rainwater, which is used to irrigate the garden, by aligning the roof angles over the greenhouse and the kitchen classroom.
Rainwater is collected in a cistern within the curved portion of the Systems Wall, where additional volumes enclose a tool shed as well as a restroom and A/C units atop the largest volume within the wall, which also forms the entrance to the building.
The bright blue color and the articulated volumes of the Systems Wall are designed to pique student’s curiosity about the sustainable systems that support the building and garden.
WORKac was founded in 2003 by Amale Andraos and Dan Wood and has achieved international acclaim for projects that reinvent the relationships between the city and nature, the future of working and living, and between historic structures and new interventions.
The collaboration between Edible Schoolyard NYC and WORKac grew out of the fi rm’s investigation into urban farming with the Public Farm 1 Installation for PS1 \ MoMA’s Young Architects Program in 2008. Edible Schoolyard NYC is dedicated to educating underserved New York City public students about their health, food attitudes and behavior through an experiential, integrated, seed-to-table program.
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