WORK ac was one of the first practices we interviewed here at ArchDaily. When we visited their office they were working in P.F.1 (Public Farm 1), their awarded entry for the 2008 P.S.1 summer installation – one of the best installations I’ve seen so far.
An interesting part of the conversation was on how they worked with a mixed group of experts for this project, bringing more into the discussion and finally into the installation. This becomes the central part of the book, with over 150 pages dedicated to a series of interviews with the parties involved, from structural engineers to growing soil experts, telling the story of the process behind P.F.1. This section is structured as a story, but you can still read it picking from any random page. Interesting interview format with no questions, just “answers” that become the narrative of the project.
On the appendix we found a series of recipes for the vegetables that grew on the urban farm, and also a foreword with an interview by Winy Maas with Dan Wood and Amale Andraos.
More info on the book after the break.
How would our cities be different today if Moses had channeled just a fraction of his vast resources and brilliance away from the mega-projects and toward a network of small green spaces that anyone could walk to or implement for themselves in their existing locations? Whose job is it to make sure that each one of us has immediate visual and physical access to an open green space? Whose job is it to make sure that every resident of a city has access to affordable, chemical-free, fresh and local produce? I have come to believe that no one will ever be hired or formally assigned to take on the most vital problems and meaningful inquiries about placemaking for people today. The most promising and humane possibilities will come from the collective, unpaid imaginings of wandering, curious, and self-driven individuals exploring the edges of what is acceptable at the time, creating possible alternative scenarios in a much more powerful way than any hired professional or singular Robert Moses could ever do on his own. His legacy is among the most visible approaches to placemaking in the twentieth century; in comparison, perhaps, it made the old lady living under the meadow all the more shocking to me. It was such a contrast with everything else that I knew about home and city, in my suburban environment at the time, taking the familiar and shifting it in radical ways just by putting dirt and life on top. I did not understand that proposition of her life—under the plants and animals in the meadow—as an architectural project, or a literary conceit, or a hippie lifestyle, or a landscape strategy, or a futurist fantasy, or a primitive step backward. I simply saw it as an unexplored, possible way of living—a parallel reality not chosen.
The old lady living under the meadow, her vegetable garden, and her cow were the first things that came to mind when I saw WORKac’s Public Farm 1 installation. Here at last were the visionary architects turning their skills toward a complex living (and alive) situation, not just a design or an image. The inverted V shape of the gardens floating up above was like the inverse of the mound in the meadow, but the grand gesture of the garden coming down to greet us from above felt the same. PF1 is not a solution to a problem nor a literal vision of a possible future. That would miss the point and underestimate the project’s significance. It is a handmade piece of pragmatic poetry. It’s a complex living situation, responding to the larger living situation of the city and the global networks that it exists within. It is alive, both in the lives of the plants that it supports and in the lives of the many sorts of people that converged on a conversation to dream it up, build it, and tend it. The typical team that an architect is used to shepherding has at PF1 expanded to include an exciting breadth of human endeavors: the farmers and the engineers, the art curators and solar experts, the college students and experimental soil companies, the graphic designers and chicken handlers. Ultimately I experienced the project as a great big invitation to leave buildings behind, to participate in our landscape, and to climb up.
– Fritz Haeg, 2010
Editor-in-chief: Amale Andraos & Dan Wood
Language: English Cover: Paperback Pages: 206 ISSN: 978-1-56898-935-8 Index
Foreword Above The People The Meadow, Garden, and Cow! Fritz Haeg.-
P.S1 Becomes P.F.1 Interviews by Linda & Ed Wood, edited by Heather Peterson and Dan Wood
The Architect´s Farm Meredith TenHoor
Afterword Pragmatopia? Winy Maas
Appendix A Warm Vegetable Salad Michael Anthony
Appendix B Urban Chickenry How To Keep a Chicken Coop
P.F1 Credits Image Credits