My title is ‘A School of Conscience & Redemption – Fountain Avenue landfill cultivates an ecological youth’. So I’m working on a design for a special kind of school on a unique location, a landfill.
In this presentation, I will introduce one day in the everyday life of a 14-year-old and his 9 year-old sister. They live together with their single mom. Single parent families is very common phenomenon in ENY, at least 28% of the families in ENY.
Next, some statistics on ENY.
We see that ENY has higher proportions of black and Hispanic residents than Brooklyn or New York City.
Also ENY has a very young population, at least 34% of the people is below 18 years old. So basically one third of the population is at the age of attending elementary school or high school.
But despite this young population, there are a lot of school dropouts. 43% of the residents aged 25 and older, does not have a high school diploma. And only 8% has a college diploma.
As a result, in East New York about 30% lives below poverty line. And in some poor areas, indicated in red, 50% of the people live below poverty line, with 32% earning less than $15000 a year.
Back to the school day… 7:04am.
7:05am! Time to get up!
7:30am A typical American breakfast. Parents in East New York usually leave early because it takes a long subway ride to get them to their work. So the kids have to take care of themselves, but there are always chips and biscuits at home and McDonalds is just around the corner.
In East New York there is 30% of obesity. This area overlaps almost exactly with the existing food deserts in Brooklyn. Food deserts are areas with shortage of fresh food.
Next, 7:55am. Time to take the bus to school…
… since there are no bicycle lanes in East New York. Although in a radius of 6km, this is the fastest transport system. So there is very much potential to introduce bicycle lanes in East New York: the dotted line is a Studio Brooklyn intervention by Pieter Vandenhoudt.
8:15am. The bus reaches Fountain Avenue landfill. This is a very intriguing place. It’s a great void in the landscape, with a misplaced road and an evenly grassed surface. But actually, this is a huge pile of trash, 160feet high. Fountain Avenue landfill was operational from 1961 until 1985 and received 8700tons of waste each day.
The decomposing waste creates methane gas. A network of pipes collects the landfill gas after which it can be transformed and used as an energy source.
A landfill is carefully capped with several layers and about 3feet of clean soil as a topping. A study describes that the best way to build on a landfill is with pile foundation, since this technique prevents the congestion of landfill gas being trapped under the concrete floor slabs.
8:22am. The bus arrives at the school. It is stretched out over the landscape, touching both water and earth. This is a school of horticulture and has in its building both an elementary school, which gives a more general schooling, and a high school with a more colored education, such as agriculture, horticulture, biotechnology, culinary courses, animal care, … The goal is to cultivate a more ecological minded youth, introduce a healthier lifestyle and support the local farmers market.
The building is made up of 3 lobes connected by public functions, such as an auditorium, a sports hall and a student restaurant. The first lobe in the north includes agriculture, culinary courses and animal care. The second lobe connects with the water and contains water biology, art courses using Jamaica Bay and the Manhattan skyline as a source of inspiration, and central heating and sanitary education that focuses on landfill-gas-to-energy. The last lobe in the south houses the horticulture and biotechnology education, dispersing into several greenhouses in the landscape.
In section, the elementary school is situated on the top floor, letting the students descend to the water and land as they complete their education. The building is interpreted as a simple garage-like structure with cheap materials, such as corrugated fiberglass and OSB.
8:30am. Start of the lessons. The classrooms are 7 by 10m and have two glass walls for maximum light. There are cupboards in front of the glass that can be filled with attributes from every field of study.
Also the configuration of the classroom shows what studies are held there, for example a regular class configuration for elementary school, easels for the art studies, biology lab, culinary courses, lab, animal care, …
The filled cupboards really show the identity of the classroom. In this example you clearly see the cupboard for culinary courses, art courses, animal care and horticulture or biotechnology.
The outer wall consists of corrugated fiberglass on the outside, a terrace of 1.5m and a sliding window at the inside. The terrace functions as an intermediate climate and can be used as a small vegetable garden with climbing plants growing over several floors. In winter, this intermediate climate can be used as a buffer zone for the cold, and in summer, it can be used as a ventilation area.
10:10am. A healthy nutrition break, cultivated by the school.
10:40am. Practical course in the greenhouses.
12:20pm. A healthy lunch provided by the cookery school.
The goal is to extend this school day until nighttime, providing a reflection on how a school of horticulture can transform East New York and introducing the schools additional function as a refuge in case of hurricanes.