US Building of the Week
Testbeds Pilot Structure at The Garden by the Bay
New Affiliates, Samuel Stewart-Halevy
6. March 2023
Photo: Michael Vahrenwald
Testbeds, a design research project by New Affiliates and Samuel Stewart-Halevy, is one of twelve projects in MoMA's New York, New Publics exhibition that opened last month. A pilot project, realized last year, was made with a mockup from 30 Warren Street, a residential project developed by Cape Advisors, who donated four custom precast panels and a large window. The architects answered a few questions about the structure located in a community garden at The Garden by the Bay.
Location: Far Rockaway, New York, USA
Clients: NYC Parks GreenThumb, The Garden by the Bay
Architect: New Affiliates
- Project Team: Ivi Diamantopoulou, Jaffer Kolb, Samuel Stewart-Halevy
Contractor: Think Construction
Site Area: 8,000 sf
Building Area: 760 sf
Photo: Michael VahrenwaldWhat were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
Testbeds is a self-initiated project undertaken by New Affiliates with Samuel Stewart-Halevy in partnership with NYC Parks GreenThumb. Through the Parks Department, Testbeds worked with the Garden by the Bay to realize the structure.
Photo: Michael VahrenwaldPlease provide an overview of the project.
Testbeds is an ongoing initiative to repurpose architectural mockups from large-scale development projects as structures for community gardens. This project is the first realized result of the initiative.
Photo: Michael VahrenwaldWhat are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
The structure is designed around a mockup from a condominium in Tribeca, consisting of a facade system made of four concrete panels and a large window frame. The mockup anchors a small community room facing onto the garden. Designed in consultation with the site’s gardeners, the structure features a large shade canopy, the community room, a greenhouse and a small storage area.
Photo: Michael VahrenwaldHow does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?
The project acts as a gateway linking the current garden to a planned future site at the adjacent lot. It provides much-needed shade to the beachside garden, which has no large surrounding trees and other features for comfort.
Photo: Michael VahrenwaldWas the project influenced by any trends in energy-conservation, construction, or design?
The initiative is centered on the reuse of wasteful byproducts that arise within processes of design and construction. Mockups are expensive and well-crafted, but are typically thrown away after the conclusion of architectural testing; here they serve as the basis of new, useful structures. The project also seeks to balance high-end materials (the mockup itself), with easy-to-source and readily available construction materials that the gardeners can purchase, transform, and fix over time.
Email interview conducted by John Hill.
Photos: Michael Vahrenwald
Concept: city-wide garden and construction map
Concept: construction flows