New York City - Meatpacking District
Energy Class AAA
architecture: STEINMETZDEMEYER N. Steinmetz, A. De Meyer, N. Clarys, J. Bande
energy concept: Transolar NYC
How should New York face a program rich of meaning, which has the ambition to settle a farm, formerly profoundly linked to the countryside, in the city center?
We decided to develop a pragmatic proposal that might be iconic as well as functional and efficient.
The objective of this project is not only to bring the "production" aspect of the farm into town but also the characteristics that emanate from it: the creation of a landscape, the relationships and exchanges between people; in other words the agriculture's ability to create social links.
The project aims to be a synthesis of these two facets. Moreover, the idea is to create a building that gives each function its perfect location.
The site has two strong and strategic points of anchors from which the project takes advantage. First, it connects to the street, and more broadly to the city with all the life that emanates from it. Then it connects with the High Line, symbolic space of the relationship between city and nature. From these two fixing points, the need to connect them with each other is implicitly born.
The “Social Hub”
The liaison that appears is more than just a vertical circulation. It is an exhibition space, a path, a promenade through "urban life" containers that host different functions in relation to the city, such as offices, shops, local products market, and an educational space about the farm. At the street level, the structure offers a permeability that allows continuity of flows between the street and the building. It is a place teeming with people: they enter, pass through, discover and continue their way. It is a place where they can meet, learn, exchange, and buy healthy food produced locally. It could be called the "social hub".
High Line’s Terrace
Above the social hub and in its continuity, the building, becomes an extension of the High Line and its natural environment, and through this connection absorbs the flows. This space offers to one-day visitors or the citizens a break to contemplate, rest, and eat a light meal made of farm products harvested just above them.
The farm is grafted on this social center, which anchors the project to the life of New York. It is divided into two different parts: the "rotating farm" where they grow fruits and vegetables thanks to the technique of hydroponics, and the "static farm", the harvest spaces.
In the north, the "Rotating farm" is the production space and functions like a "machine". These are crops in containers; they rotate to provide enough daily natural light to all plants. This system has the advantage of centralizing the harvest in one place, where fruits and vegetables come to us. The north position permits to avoid an excessive exposure to sunlight and helps protect the rest of the building from north winds. The "rotating farm" develops itself from the street to the top, giving a strong image of the building at the northeast corner. Its position also allows the supply and distribution of farm products directly from the street.
At the heart of the building, the "static farm" is suspended below the housing. Unlike the "rotating farm", it is not a “machine” but a space, once again, turned to the people. There you can find crops that are not adapted to the "rotating farm" system, fish farming involved in the proper functioning of crops in hydroponics, harvest workshops of the "rotating farm", laboratories and storage areas. These spaces are visible from the brunch area. We see people working and caring for plants.
In order to provide the best views and better sunshine, the housings are detached from the street, high perched like a bird's nest. They enjoy a perfect east-south-west orientation. The bias does not want to mix the two main facets of the program (housing and farm) but rather to confront them, reflecting the idea that these are two different things, just like the farm being in a city like New York. This . It is a wooden "livingbox", economic and passive. The unique side of the wooden box brings the people a feeling of being privileged. Mobile wooden panels create a lively façade that progresses during the day and over the seasons. The rest of the building is enclosed and protected by an organic structure, filled with transparent ETFE cushions. The wood brings a natural touch while ETFE cushions return a more sophisticated image of the building, referring to greenhouse architecture and water drops of hydroponics.
Even if they are not mixed, visual relationships enrich the link between the housing and the farm. The apartments are distributed by a central core from which one can see the production. This permits to bring natural filtered light to the crops, as well as special and interesting views that cannot be found anywhere else.
At the top of the building from where a magnificent panorama of New York can be admired, there is a restaurant, a meeting, eating, drinking and outlook space that, rather than offering the breathtaking view to only a selected few, makes it accessible to all. This place will become a "place to be" in New York, as a beacon along the High Line where you can savor gourmet kitchen with excellence products.