Living Building Challenge Studio | Guiding Principles

As I have mentioned in the past, I am currently taking part in my last studio as a fifth year student at the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design. For our final project, we have broken into interdisciplinary teams to design a new urban farmstead in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I decided to post specifically about the process as a way of documenting some of my design process. I will create a second post at a later time to show peregrinate drawings and diagrams. At this time I will simple explain the projects guiding principles. The following is an excerpt from our project statement.

Students will work in teams to plan and design a new urban farmstead for Tri-Cycle Farms as a prospective
client. This visioning plan will help to discover potential available in a larger site (than the existing one)
with a more robust program. This case study will also allow for the examination of the feasibility of the
Living Building Challenge as a model for real estate development in Northwest Arkansas.
The project site is seven and a half acres on the north side of North St. just to the east of Scull Creek
and the Razorback Greenway/Scull Creek Trail. The new program for the site is meant to make a more
robust environment in size, scope and community connection. The program will enable community and
private events, housing for temporary employees coming from local, regional and national organizations,
as well as visitors interested in ecotourism, and commercial programming related to healthy eating and
living. Program elements include, a location for food trucks, a commercial building for a restaurant
and co-working space, an event space/parking area, a community center, food hub and office core, a
permaculture farm and food forest, and the living units.

The Living Building Challenge requirements will permeate the design as the primary programmatic element.

Water harvesting, with greywater and blackwater treatment are necessary, as well as a solar
panel array between and on the commercial building and community center. Additional solar will be
needed for the living units on the north end of the site and should be placed there. Reuse of waste is
part of the ethos of permaculture and the LBC, so it will be necessary to accommodate for this (re)use
on the site.

Agenda: Create a place which maximizes use value and occupancy through multiple rhythmic lifecycles .

Guiding Principles

Balance  Revenue Generation vs Community Investment Through Rhythmic Lifecycles

We understand that in order to produce a product, there first must be resources allocated towards the project.  Community value must be derived from Resources that are generated from revenue and outside investment.  Frequency equalizers are essentially the visualization of activity levels based upon a sound’s frequencies or other measurements. Applied to a site, we are becoming interested in visualizing, or at least highlighting, the various activity levels of our site based on the programmatic spaces that compose it. Our aim is to bring attention to the latent networks and logistics present in how an urban agriculture site might operate, and specifically, showing the connections between community development and revenue generation.

Maximize new programmatic use value

Through intentional programming, the site should function at maximum use capacity as many hours of the day(night) as possible.  We believe the most resilient model is that which is being used and occupied as much as possible.  

Respond to existing form

After exploring the site, our team recognized great potential within the existing form and organization.  Although the materials are dilapidated, many of the existing buildings relate well to the human scale of adjacent open spaces.  The site also felt peaceful and secluded from the city by the existing tree lines on the perimeter.  Based on these findings, we will seek to retain as much of the existing site character and organization as possible. 

Our team identified 11 existing concrete slabs that may be modified to hold new programmatic spaces.  We will seek to use these slabs as for of organization for further LID elements within.

Respond to the Razorback Green-way

According to the Walton Family Foundation 2017 Northwest Arkansas Trail Usage Monitoring Report, the Scull Creek/North St. Intersection has the highest rate of cyclists/year of any point on the Razorback Green-way at over 200,000 and the fifth highest rate of pedestrians at almost 150,00/year.  In response to these findings, our team has identified the Green-way as a high priority for sight organization and connection.

Our design will connect to the Green-way with two major public open spaces as well as the face of the community center and restaurant.

 Create a gradient of programmatic spaces leading into the site

By designing a continuum of programmed spaces, we have the opportunity to blend agriculture, art, commercial, and public open space.  The section of the site, facing North St. should maximize visible frontage by placing the restaurant and office spaces here.  The community center will face directly on to the Green-way flanked by a public courtyard and public park/skate-park.  By placing these elements at the perimeter, users will be drawn in from the primary modes of circulation around our site. 

Once within these primary public spaces, a gradation of semi-public spaces will continue to draw users to the interior of the sight to reveal the agricultural workings.  Specific orientation and design of buildings will help to conceal and reveal these interior spaces while creating a human scaled, progression.

Catalyze existing community use on site

Upon visiting the sight, we observed many sighs of existing gorilla activity by the community.  The entire back of the sight was covered in graffiti and spray-paint art and two of the more secluded slabs near the Green-way had been turned into make-shift skate parks using discarded materials.  Our team recognized the importance oh how the sight is already being used in many ways.  We see this observation as an opportunity to provide safer alternatives to the kind of activities which currently exist by creating a skate park and walking trail available 24/7. 

Design for safe nocturnal and diurnal spaces

Security should be built into the design from the beginning by using techniques such as eyes on the street and formal preimptieveness.  Buildings will be designed with circulatory systems moved toward the exterior with clear sight lines into the landscape to maximize passive surveillance. 

The landscape is designed to decrease dead-ends and secluded areas while maintaining adequate lighting.  We believe the best way to maintain security is by activating spaces with appropriate programming to draw in people.

Tap into existing 24/7/52 networks to magnify occupation throughout multiple time cycles

24/7 spaces are not only the most resilient and efficient because they maximize use value at all times, but they also are the most inclusive.  Our design seeks to respond to the common, temporal typology of buildings and spaces which go unused for a great amount of their lifespan.  We see these spaces as inefficient and unsustainable.

Additionally, we believe that too much of our designed urban environment responds to the 9-5 condition.  As designers, we must embrace lifestyles and activities apart from those which we easily identify with.  For example, many people work shifts at night that begin and end at odd times.  Some people suffer from social anxiety or anxiety from driving in traffic and prefer to spend more time out and about during the nighttime hours to avoid crowds. 

There is a continuum of user typologies who merit the same design intention as those who operate under more standard “business hours”.  Additionally, the effects of climate change, especially in warmer climates are driving more people to come out in the evening or at night.  Nocturnal users are subject to the same needs as their day-time counterparts. 

By mapping programmatic spaces against daily, weekly, and seasonal time cycles, we intend to specifically program spaces to fit the 24/7/52 needs of the community.  Many existing 24/7 networks already exist within Fayetteville.  By tapping in to these networks, we can promote a greater capacity for activity and occupation by the community at all times.