In mid-2008, DST Systems planned to construct a rain garden at 18th and Broadway, in the historic Crossroads Art District just south of downtown Kansas City, MO. Partnering with 360 Architecture, the plans evolved to showcase the sustainability of living spaces and green practices, transforming a vacant lot into a self-resourceful and reliant innovative urban community garden complete with solar power, storm water management and recycling systems and engagement of the local community.
Presently, this half acre land feeds around forty people a day, with provisions of redirecting rainwater for irrigation purposes, creating an arable oasis for harvest. By teaming up with Harvesters Community Food Network, 18Broadway is exploring new techniques for intensive high-production gardening. With the help of local volunteers, single crops are planted from spring to late summer. The garden is surrounded by informational signage that encourages the surrounding community to come and grow their own vegetables, as well as provides budding urban gardeners further information to take up this hobby.
The urban gardening trend is highly dependent on a steady supply of water, and with an average of 5,000 cubic feet per rainstorm, the park, which acts as a garden and a farm, receives around a million gallons of water a year. Adequately designed alley and curb swales, in addition to bio-filtration systems, serve to retain a 100% of the downpour water supply, and are incorporated into the area to naturally reduce pollutants during the initial downpours. In addition, storm water filtration techniques are utilized to capture, purify and reuse storm water and divert it from Kansas City’s storm sewer systems. With the help of a 40,000-gallon underground cistern storage system, water is UV–treated and pumped back to the gardens for its irrigation needs.
Distribution for this water supply is primarily powered by around 1,800 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels which power electric pumps and hydrants located below the rain gardens. When not utilized, the solar panels can provide enough electricity to charge an electric car. In the future, the project aims to include an electric charging station at the locations peripheries. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the project plans to explore holistic housing development in the area that is both energy conserving and socially equitable. The primary objective is to reduce costs, while providing a healthy home environment for local occupants to live.
In a culture of rapid urbanization and decentralized power generation and distribution, which will have a dramatic effect on urban spatial structures, is it feasible to replicate such urban lot projects? What kinds of future land use issues could arise in such sustainable infrastructure strategies of mixed-use development with projected increases in population density?
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