Oculus - Fall 2014 - (Page 31)

feature Power to the People In the South Bronx, an off-the-grid community-gardenpavilion prototype is designed with Hurricane Sandy's lessons in mind njoying a cultural event or relaxing with neighbors in an urban garden can be a welcome way of recharging one's batteries. A new prototype for a community-garden pavilion by TEN Arquitectos, with Buro Happold, takes the idea literally. In case of a neighborhood power outage, the structure will offer solar electricity and Wi-Fi so people can charge their phones and access the Internet. Design work began in 2013, not long after Hurricane Sandy left large swaths of the city without power. Emergency preparedness was on everyone's mind. The New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a nonprofit organization that owns and maintains 52 community gardens in high-need neighborhoods throughout the city, and the eco-conscious Urban Air Foundation recruited TEN Arquitectos to design a new garden-shelter prototype. The first built was a "casita" (meaning "little house" in Spanish), a type of garden structure popular in Puerto Rico, the motherland of many residents in the Willis Avenue Community Garden's Mott Haven neighborhood in the South Bronx. The architects set out to create a sustainable and resilient design. It would need to be easily reconfigured to meet a community's changing needs, because for a garden to be "a relevant civic space for the community, it has to be able to adapt," remarks Andrea Steele, AIA, managing partner in TEN Arquitectos' NYC office. And including an off-the-grid power source would mean the structure could offer battery-stored electricity on a daily basis and, most importantly, during blackouts. Her firm created a kit of parts composed of low-cost, off-the-shelf construction elements that offers a community its own choice of design from an array of possibilities. The Willis Avenue garden needed a casita, but other NYRP gardens might want a gazebo, garden shed, or trellis. The organization hopes to use the kit to create structures in all its community gardens, according to NYRP Executive Director Deborah Marton. The design is a study in simplicity. The main components are wooden posts, beams, and battens, joined with metal connectors and fasteners - items found in hardware stores. (In fact, Home Depot donated construction materials for the Willis Avenue pavilion.) The components assemble to make 12-foot cubes that can be combined in a variety of configurations. Timber-slatted infill panels can form walls and roofs, and a translucent roof can be added above a panel for additional weather protection. The casita in the Bronx was constructed in just three weeks, with contractor FGI Corporation building the superstructure, and community volunteers and others assembling the infill panels. It consists of three cube modules in a row, a configuration that lets it serve well as an outdoor classroom or simply a shady spot for local residents to relax. The space doubles as a stage, too, as it did during last summer's Arts in the Gardens, a free series of cultural Culture and the City ©Emily Kinsolving E ©Emily Kinsolving B Y L I S A DE L G A DO CLIENT: New York Restoration Project ARCHITECT: TEN Arquitectos DESIGN TEAM: Enrique Norten, FAIA, Andrea Steele, AIA, Joe Murray, James Carse, AICP, LEED AP, Harry Byron ENGINEER: Buro Happold (above) The prototype "casita" was put to good use this summer at the New York Restoration Project's Willis Avenue Community Garden. SUSTAINABILITY CONSULTANT: Urban Air Foundation/Code Green CONTRACTOR: FGI Corporation events presented by the NYRP and the Bronx Museum. (The museum is also hosting an exhibition on the pavilion's design, "Rethinking the Garden Casita," running through January 11, 2015.) Photovoltaic panels and Wi-Fi will be added once funding is secured. A community source of power and Web access is especially important here, because low-income neighborhoods are usually hit hardest in emergencies. "I love how this design turns the tables," Steele remarks. "It empowers this garden. It gives the community a touchstone or a beacon when the buildings are dark." < Lisa Delgado is a freelance journalist who has written for e-Oculus, The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Blueprint, and Wired, among other publications. Fall 2014 Oculus 31

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2014

Letter From the President
Letter From the Editor
Center for Architecture
Fair Shake
Opener: Making Culture, Making Place
Exemplary Expansion
A Showcase for History and Heritage
Hanging Out With Art
Let’s Get Visible
The Play’s the Thing
More Than Meets the Eye in a New Brooklyn Park
Musicians’ Magnet
Power to the People
Branching Out
Subterranean Subtexts at the National 9/11 Memorial Museum
In Print
8-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Fall 2014