An Institute for Urban Agriculture: Architecture, Ecology and Urban Habitat

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Virginia Tech

Humankind has lived on earth for a geologically brief time. Our species has proven a remarkable ability to adapt to our environment through the development and use of tools and technology. Little evidence suggests when our need to tame nature took hold in our collective cultural consciousness, yet throughout western history, human needs and activities have been perceived as separate from the natural world. We stand at the beginning of a new millennium, aware of the cycles which govern the flows of life on our planet, yet far from understanding the specifics of how they work.

This building, an Institute for Urban Agriculture, seeks to challenge that notion of separation. The design expresses architecturally the ways in which the technological systems and organic systems work together to sustain the mission of the Institute. Through every aspect of the building design, the perceived separation of those systems is woven together to express an holistic view of the building as a fully integrated system. Human intervention is a necessary part of a healthy urban ecosystem, and positive relationships with the natural world contribute to the qualities of human health. Inspired by careful observation and experience of the surrounding urban landscape, this design recognizes those interactions and builds upon their social, ecological and economic values. Architecture becomes the medium for communicating transformed ideas about our relationships with the natural world to the building inhabitants and to the public at large.

Architecture, Sustainability, green building, environmental design, urban ecology