New York architect WORKac is building the City’s first Edible Schoolyard in collaboration with Edible Schoolyard NYC, an affiliate of the Edible Schoolyard Project started by Alice Waters in Berkeley, California and P.S. 216, the Arturo Toscanini School in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
Gravesend was a natural choice for the inaugural project. 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.
The project transforms a half acre parking lot into a thriving garden. To ensure a four season experience for the students, WORKac incorporated a greenhouse together with an indoor kitchen classroom to allow classes to continue throughout the year.
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 30 students to prepare and enjoy meals with vegetables harvested from the school’s organic garden. The facade of the structure is clad in low-cost cementitious shingles, which are interpreted as pixels and utilized in a tight pattern to compose a flower pattern inspired by Venturi Scott Brown’s BEST facade. Porthole windows and circular skylights allow light to enter the interior.
The building’s shape is designed to maximize the harvesting of rainwater, which is used to irrigate the garden. Rainwater is collected in a cistern within the curved portion of the Systems Wall, where additional volumes enclose a tool shed and restroom.
The largest volume within the Systems Wall forms an entrance to the building. Its bright blue colour is intended to ‘pique the students’ curiosity about the sustainable systems that support the building and the garden’.