Model photos by Nash Baker

Gardener’s Library

Studio / Spring 2018 / Year 4 / Rice Architecture / Professor Piergianna Mazzocca

Gardening Library / Greenhouse / Pavilion
  • Seed library, toolshed, lawn mower rental, multi-purpose assembly room
  • Demonstration greenhouses and garden beds, workshops
  • Pavilion, farmers market

In New Orleans, community gardens have been deployed to address post-Katrina conditions, serving dual purposes of infilling and reactivating vacant, abandoned lots while simultaneously addressing the city’s food desert problems. Gardener’s Library reconsiders the community garden from a site for the production of crops to a source for the reproduction of knowledge, reformatting the community garden as a library, with the implication that the garden-library enables the proliferation of gardens throughout the city.

Sited within a neighborhood of shotgun housing, the project infills the vacant lots of an entire block. The form follows the pre-existing formal repertoire of the neighborhood: shotgun housing, in combination with another established type: the greenhouse. Two parallel bars housing the library intersect a repetition of greenhouse frames, enclosed on one side as greenhouses and open on the other side as urban pavilion. Constructed of steel I-beams and cinderblocks, the project embraces repetition and economy. Voids and gaps appear throughout, from prominent axes to more understated moments such as drainage channels, double-columns, reveals, and the holes of the cinderblocks themselves. The open pavilion can be understood as a kind of spatial gap, presenting an architecture of emptiness and void as the very thing which offers urban opportunity.

Ultimately, Gardener’s Library is interested in the conflation of production with the reproduction of knowledge such that a garden can become a library. The project becomes more sustainable as a source rather than a site, as a collection for production instead of production for collection, exchanging the community garden for a community of gardens.
© Lara Hansmann 2020