is a studio for architecture, planning, and design based in Saint Louis, USA.

Big Box Agriculture

Reburbia competition entry big box greenhouse and restaurant

As more businesses in the old suburbs vacate, either going out of business or moving to the new suburbs, large expanses of retail and parking lot become empty. This empty obsolescence is an opportunity for a new kind of business and landscape. It’s an opportunity to reclaim the productive pastoral atmosphere of the land before sprawl. This landscape would not be of an antiquated culture or a superficial culture, but a layering of ideals – sustainable practices of the past, new energy efficient technologies, and contemporary culture.

farm with restaurant to right

The example presented is a reversal of a function for a big box grocery store, from retailer of food – food detached from processes from which it came to be – to producer of food. The parking lot becomes a park-farm. The inside of the big box becomes a greenhouse and restaurant.  Asphalt farming techniques allow for layering of soil, compost in containers on top of asphalt. The big box store’s roof is partially replaced with a greenhouse roof. Other details, such as the reversal of parking lot light poles into solar trees that hold photovoltaics can be implemented. One can imagine pushing a shopping cart through this suburban farm and picking your produce right from the vine, with the option to bring your harvest to the restaurant chef for preparation and eating your harvest on the spot.  As other types of businesses become obsolete, out of fashion, they may need to imagine themselves as part of a productive suburb.

grocery big box -> greenhouse + restaurant; parking lot -> farm

Reburbia competition entry animation

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5 Responses to “Big Box Agriculture”

  1. Cameron Handyside says:

    Mr. Fulton,
    I read your blog on a news site and found it very interesting. I’m currently working in water resources for agriculture in Alabama (at UAH). Do you have any interest from traditional agriculture in “suburban farming”? Is there opportunity for a test site at an abandonded building in B’ham or around the state?

    Cameron Handyside

    • admin says:

      Hi Cameron,

      Yes, I’d love to collaborate and/or get your help figuring out how to make this real. I think you’re right about trying a test site. I haven’t gotten to that step yet, but would love to start it.

  2. I’m impressed! It’s good to see someone very thrilled about what they do. Looking forward to future posts.Cheers!

  3. Andrew says:

    Dynamite website- I totally agree. Agriculture gives the suburban lifestyle reason (more than golf- who needs land for 18 holes when a cheap driving range will do?). If you need web/graphic assistance, I’s be happy put in some time for this cause- maybe make a similar site and link up. One thing I need to know however is how do you do those graphics. Photoshop/ flash?

  4. [...] Big Box Agriculture, Forrest Fulton Architecture’s 3rd place entry in the Reburbia compeititon, featured in Dwell’s Dec/Jan 2010 issue [...]

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