Greening — and feeding — the city with a ‘garden block’
Mix of housing types: One might expect retirees and young families alike to be attracted to growing their own food, but there is a broad range in housing needs between these two groups. Allowing a range of housing types could facilitate lifecycle diversity, as well as allowing those from different income levels to share the same space. The larger homes include their own growing plot delineated by a short fence.
Shared resources: The shady northern side of the condo buildings is a place for the utilitarian functions. Gardening requires many resources that can be shared by the whole block. A tool shed is accessed from the side by the glass elevator. A water cistern collects and stores runoff from the buildings above. Chicken coops are lined up against the building. Although chickens need sunlight, some shade could benefit them as well. Maybe they could be on wheels. The composting bins are directly in front of the block’s dumpster, so households can deposit their organic waste while taking out the trash.
Childrens’ area: The playground and “kindergarten” is in full view of the whole grounds. Children have their own 24′ by 31′ plot to grow whatever they choose. A row of fruit trees creates a sound barrier for the adjacent rowhouses. Being within the enclosed communal area allows parents a certain assurance of safety.
Green roof: I know these things are expensive for now, but in this case it’s integral to the whole concept. Connected directly to the rest of the grounds by an outdoor elevator, it expands the growing area measurably. Less tangibly, the views to north into the block help create a sense of internal cohesion, and the southern views to the rest of the city a sense of external connection.
Greenhouse and car sharing: A greenhouse is one of the most efficient uses of solar energy, and it’s necessary in most climates for extending the growing season. A single 4100 sq. ft. greenhouse should be sufficient to meet the needs for the whole block. There is off-street parking available at a rate of roughly one space per three units. The relative paucity of spaces may be compensated for by car-sharing. For areas with greater transit accessibility, this lot could be substituted with two homes.
Corner store: The corner store is the public interface of the block and a neighborhood shopping hub. Possibly, excess produce and supplies from the garden could be sold here. The upper floors could be leased out to offices or any other reasonably compatible use.
So what do you think? Would you want to live in a block like this?
Republished with permission from Discovering Urbanism.
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