community · happiness · mental health

North America’s Largest Urban Orchard Transforms an Old Gas Station in Downtown Vancouver | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

While most of my blog posts focus on playful design and things that create a playful atmosphere, a lot of us don’t have all of our basic needs met in order to be in a playful state. We are often overstressed, underslept, overworked, and detached from community. Play researchers have found evidence that goes along with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that find we need these things in order to be ready to explore, create, and be healthy. That’s why I also like to talk about what it takes to get us to a space where we feel safe, healthy, and ready to be playful.

Going with the philosophy that gardening is good for the soul, as well as aiming for convenience, a group in Vancouver has opened a huge urban farm and orchard.

Vancouver’s Sole Food Farms has transformed an old gas station into North American’s largest urban orchard! Located in Downtown Eastside, the orchard provides jobs to recovering addicts and those with mental illness, giving them a chance to make a living while raising organic food. The organic fruit, along with produce from three other sites, is sold to local restaurants and grocery stores.

more via North America’s Largest Urban Orchard Transforms an Old Gas Station in Downtown Vancouver | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Adding green space to a city, whether it’s a garden, park, or a single tree, has also repeatedly shown to be valuable even to those who just observe the space, they don’t need to even be actively engaged in maintaining it. The garden adds connection to and investment in the land, which is good for building community, and provides a sense of agency for those who might not otherwise have one.

Where have you seen community gardens spring up? What works, what doesn’t? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

architecture · creativity · design · environment · health · work

LEED Gold Firm With a Picnic Green | Inc.com

Bringing the great outdoors indoors for mental destressing, and maybe a little fun.

HOK’s London branch features a central patch of grass. But despite all the greenery, perhaps the greenest feature was its construction method and materials.

more via LEED Gold Firm With a Picnic Green | Inc.com.

architecture · community

Developer seeks to create inviting structures | Seattle Times Newspaper

I read an article recently about a very cool developer in the Seattle area. His company focuses on creating buildings and projects that are good for the environment and for the community:

Rogers’… 4-year-old company, Point 32, is developing one of the region’s highest-profile projects: the Bullitt Center, billed as the greenest office building on the planet.

The Capitol Hill project, which broke ground last month, has been designed to produce its own water, treat its own waste, and each year generate as much power as it uses.

“It really could change the nature of green building, nationally and locally,” Rogers says.

He acknowledges his career path hasn’t been a conventional one. But his background in conservation and the arts prepared him well for what he’s doing now, he says.

Rogers and his business partners, Chris Faul and Matt Kellogg, have been working with the owner, the environment-focused Bullitt Foundation, almost from the start. They helped find the site, design the six-story building, obtain permits and arrange construction financing.

Point 32 also recently completed the first project in which it has an ownership stake: a high-end, boutique live-work loft complex in South Lake Union called Art Stable, targeted at artists and art collectors.

The award-winning building’s most distinctive feature: a crane on the roof and enormous, hinged windows through which oversized art pieces can be lowered.

So what’s the thread that ties together Rogers’ eclectic career?

“I think it’s an interest in place-making,” he says.

Creating something that’s aesthetically appealing is part of that, he says, but there’s more:

“We’re interested in helping create places where people can come together naturally of their own accord, places that improve the physical and social fabric of the city, places that provide a greater benefit than just the physical structures.”

He’s already played a major role in creating one highly acclaimed place: the Seattle Art Museum‘s Olympic Sculpture Park. As SAM’s project manager, Rogers oversaw all facets of the $85 million park’s development — permits, financing, design, construction.

more via Business & Technology | In Person: Developer seeks to create inviting structures | Seattle Times Newspaper.

architecture · design · Nature

Norway’s Grassy Rooftops

Boing Boing is an awesome filter for culture and science enrichment! Heck the whole site is enriching. Once again they deliver, with this choice nugget from Norway: rural Norwegian homes whose roofs have been given over to the traditional turf — and even small forests.

Image from Amusing Planet

Turf roofs in Norway are a tradition and you will see them everywhere. Roofs in Scandinavia have probably been covered with birch bark and sod since prehistory. During the Viking and Middle Ages most houses had sod roofs. In rural areas sod roofs were almost universal until the beginning of the 18th century. Tile roofs, which appeared much earlier in towns and on rural manors, gradually superseded sod roofs except in remote inland areas during the 19th century. Corrugated iron and other industrial materials also became a threat to ancient traditions. But just before extinction, the national romantics proclaimed a revival of vernacular traditions, including sod roofs. A new market was opened by the demand for mountain lodges and holiday homes. At the same time, open air museums and the preservation movement created a reservation for ancient building traditions. From these reservations, sod roofs have begun to reappear as an alternative to modern materials.Every year, since 2000, an award is also given to the best green roof project…

The Grass Roofs of Norway (via Geisha Asobi)

Farm buildings in Heidal, Gudbrandadal, Norway
Image via Wikipedia

They remind me a little bit of the houses built by SunRay Kelley (my father-in-law)…