The Sustainable Technology Experimental Agricultural Dwelling (‘s.t.e.a.d.) is designed for a new generation of agricultural and technological pioneers seeking to spread the fertility of the farm into the most unlikely environments. This project proposes that this new frontier can be found in the under utilized spaces of our urban areas. The low-intensity tracts of single-story industrial buildings common in American cities could host rooftop farms that would increase the economic productivity of these often-struggling areas while bringing the inhabitants of the city back into proximity with the crucial technology of agriculture. Farming created the foundation for human civilization and continues to be one of the most basic ways in which we draw upon resources of the world.
Over 82% of Americans live in cities or suburbs, but the mythology of the single-family home is rooted in our rural origins and the formerly wide-open spaces of our now exhausted terrestrial frontiers. In an ironic coda to Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an agrarian democracy, the ranches and colonials that now crowd the former farmland of our suburbs are modeled on the houses of the settlers that began the process of transforming the American landscape to its current, and increasingly developed form. This project seeks to reestablish a direct connection between the single family residence the productive landscape.
The ‘s.t.e.a.d. incorporates a dwelling for a four-person family, greenhouse, workshop, laboratory, office, machinery, and covered outdoor work areas in a lightweight facility adjacent to a 6 1/2 acre rooftop farm. The farm uses an organic hydroponic film system that does not require a soil medium. All nutrients are delivered to the crops in a water solution that is regularly sterilized and recirculated to minimize the consumption of water, which is primarily collected from the warehouse roof.
This speculative project was featured in SOUPERgreen; a group show of technologically-expressive “green” architecture that seeks to challenge the status quo of sustainable design. In response to the looming crisis, the five participating architects in this exhibition suggest that our homes can, and should make the connections between us and our environment visible.
Location: Chatsworth, California
Exhibition: A+D Museum, Los Angeles, California