What if Old MacDonald hired a cutting-edge architecture firm to design his farm? That’s the question posed by Montreal studio La SHED. Its concept for a family-owned organic cheese producer in Quebec’s Montérégie region delivers a contemporary cow stable that shifts away from the industrialized metal boxes common in the industry and harkens back to farming’s wholesome roots. While the barn mimics the storybook ideal — complete with a tin roof, natural wood frame and hemlock siding accented by a massive red sliding door — it also presents something considerably more modern. A fully translucent facade pours natural light into the interior (a spacious environment that prioritizes cows’ comfort first and foremost) while also delivering a picturesque reflection of the surrounding rural landscape. The glass wall isn’t the only way to get a look inside. By hosting regular events held under the barn’s overhanging roof, the farm works to cultivate a lasting appreciation for agriculture.
Project A Modern Barn: Au Gré des Champs Location Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada Firm La SHED Architecture, Canada Team Sébastien Parent, Yannick Laurin and Renée Mailhot with Olivier Bérard, Anthony Bergoin, Romy Brosseau, Kevyn Durocher, Clément Stoll, Dahlia Marinier-Doucet, Pierre-Alexandre Lemieux, Cédric Langevin and Samuel Guimond Photo Maxime Brouillet
Despite being recognized with legal status and basic utilities 12 years ago, the informal Comuna 4 settlement at the edge of Bogotá still lacked effective park space. When its citizens grew tired of lobbying city officials, they resolved to spearhead the initiative themselves. Aided by a team of university students, Aaron Brakke and his design studio Whiteknee came on board to lead exercises focused on unifying the disconnected community to build consensus around key priorities. Their eventual concept is a testament to the power of navigating steep challenges. Taking advantage of the site’s harsh incline, a series of ramps lead to expansive landings dedicated to playground swings, exercise equipment and a garden to help an NGO feed neighbourhood children. The park’s construction — from a thoughtful mix of largely recycled materials — doubled as a strategic learning opportunity, with teachers brought in to train participants in key techniques and ultimately help them earn government-sponsored certificates in construction.
Project Zig Zag Park Location Bogotá, Colombia Firm Whiteknee (U.S.) Team Aaron Brakke and Estefania Villamizar with Ivan Avila, Alejandro Bello, Juan Nicholas Rivera, Yojhanth Gonzalez, Nicholas Arias, Javier Augusto Rosas, Diego Lopez, Jeisson Carrillo, Jhon Palacios, Amanda Lopez, Jhonatan Lopez and Jhon Vitechi
Sometimes it takes careful planning to produce organic interactions. That’s a lesson architect Lorcan O’Herlihy took to heart while developing affordable housing for previously homeless individuals in Los Angeles. Thanks to the building’s L-shaped design, each of its 26 units receives abundant space, ample natural light and comfortable cross ventilation. But it’s the strategies adopted to develop a deeper sense of community that are among the project’s most thoughtful. To promote neighbourly interactions between those coming and going, all units are accessed via staggered exterior walkways. When it comes time for a proper get-together, a social room with a shared kitchen and dining area accommodates regular potlucks, with dishes drawing on ingredients grown in the second-storey plaza garden. And while most of the ground floor is devoted to parking, cars stay tucked behind two street-front retail spaces that provide residents with valuable workforce training. All in all, it’s a housing complex designed to be a place not just to live but to prosper.
Project MLK1101 Supportive Housing Location Los Angeles, U.S. Firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, U.S. Photos Paul Vu
A modern-rustic barn, a park in an informal community and an affordable housing development for formerly homeless people all show how to design with social resilience top of mind.