Since 1999, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and its sister institution, the PS1 Contemporary Art Center has hosted the Young Architects Program (YAP) to design a temporary installation in the courtyards of PS1 in Queens, NY for their summer “Warm Up” parties. Every intervention has expanded upon the theme of the “Urban Beach.”
In 2008, 40 years after the Summer of ’68, we felt it was time for a new leisure revolution, one that creates a new symbol of liberation, knowledge, power and fun for today’s cities. Leaving behind the Urban Beach, our project became the Urban Farm — as a symbol of our generations’ preoccupations and hopes for a better and different future. As cities have finally proven their superiority over their suburban counterparts — in everything from quality of life to environmental impact — they should again become our much needed laboratories of experimentation.
Channeling the last utopian architectural projects about the City that examined its potential, represented its promises of liberation, and captured its pleasures — from Superstudio’s Continuous Monument to Koolhaas’s Exodus — Public Farm 1 (P.F.1) is an architectural and urban manifesto to engage play and reinvent our cities, and our world, once again.
Stemming from the desire to both embrace the grid as organizing pattern for the urban farm and working with a structural material that would be recyclable and biodegradable, cardboard tubes were chosen as the primary building material. The tubes serve as planters, preassembled in a “daisy” pattern of six tubes arranged in a hexagon around a seventh central tube. The central tube alternates either as a “picking hole” to access the crops or a structural column, extending to the ground.
51 varieties of herbs, fruit and vegetables were selected to thrive in the urban environment and planted to bloom in succession throughout the summer. The plants are also organized by the “daisy pattern,” each daisy planted with a single species.
Each column is programmed to create a variety of experiences and interactions beneath the farm. These include a solar-powered juicer for fresh veggie cocktails, a periscope to provide close-up views of the fields, a towel column and a water-spouting column next to the pool, two columns joined together with a bench and enclosed by a curtain to provide privacy, a nighttime column of twinkling stars and cricket sounds and a solar-powered phone-charging column. In the smaller courtyard a series of experiential columns use video and sound to bring animal life to P.F.1
P.F.1 is completely off-grid. The solar power system consists of an array of eighteen photovoltaic modules to power all of P.F.1’s power loads — videos screens, speakers, lights, cell phone chargers and all of the irrigation pumps.
A drip irrigation system was designed to deliver a controlled amount of water to each planter-tube, fed by a cistern which collected more than 6,000 gallons of rainwater over the course of the summer.
Unbeknownst to MoMA, the “tool shed” we were building was actually a chicken coop! On the day of the opening we brought 6 mature chickens and a dozen peeping chicks. The chickens had the run of the grounds during the week and produced eggs all summer long.