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A parking lot in New York City is transformed into a garden, greenhouse and culinary classroom

Edible Schoolyard NYC's showcase preschool and primary school, P.S. 216 transforms a parking lot into a half-acre organic garden where children are taught how to harvest over 60 types of fruits, grains and vegetables.

The Edible Schoolyard (ESY) project was started by renowned chef Alice Waters to provide spaces in which children plant, harvest, prepare food and eat together, creating a comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum that connects food systems to academic subjects such as literacy, science, social studies, math and the arts.

Terming the project "the delicious revolution", Waters says that "when the hearts and minds of our children are captured by a school lunch curriculum, enriched with experience in the garden, sustainability will become the lens through which they see the world."

The architectural system is designed to cater for learning and food preparation. Working together as a series of interlinked sustainable systems, these elements produce energy and heat, collect rainwater, process compost and sort waste to create an entirely off-grid structure.

The building breaks into three parts. The flowers correspond to the office and a generous classroom, lit from above and the side by circular windows. The slant roofed greenhouse is clad in translucent polycarbonate with an alumunium structure. In the back, coated in blue rubber, is the tool shed, a bathroom and cistern. 

At the heart of the school is the "kitchen classroom", with three learning stations, built-in storage, and small office surrounding three dining tables where up to thirty students can enjoy meals they prepare. The internal joinery colours matching the external shingle, patterned facade.

The bold patterned facade of pixelated giant red and white blooms stands out from the neighbouring highway, thus acting as a branding and giving the school a unique identity. 

Since the programme began in 1995, school gardens have popped up all over! Explore the movement's progress on this map. 

It is a fantastic concept that teaches children not only about healthy and sustainable living, but how to work together and as a community. The architecturally designed NYC P.C. 216 model is perhaps one which can be developed and reiterated across numerous continents and educational situations.

Thus becoming an integral component of future educational facilities.


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