Anthony Di Gaetano
Urban Sanctuary of Horticulture and Conviviality (USHC)
The USHC is a cultural building designed with the intent to connect the public to food, the arts, and horticultural education through typologically sacred architecture. Ornament and form influenced by monastic architecture are expressed through an interplay of masonry and timber. The design and atmosphere of sacred spaces are intended to evoke a sense of tranquillity and transcendence in the inhabitant. The architecture of the USHC aims to foster a deeper sense of personal connection and meaning between its inhabitants and the world around them.
The USHC bridges the rural canal bank to the urban setting on Garscube Road. The sloped site has a 12-meter elevational difference between the canal and street level. Already present adjacent to the site, a wide ramp connects the street to the canal, with stair access and a slide. The landing area of the ramp currently functions as a congregation space for the public; with this in mind, it felt appropriate to utilize the existing accessible architecture and create public realm space that can be used for play and entry. From this idea, an open vaulted structure was developed, holding up the USHC and aiding in providing three entry points from different elevations.
The USHC is intended to be a public place for learning, the creation and consumption of food, and cultural exchange. Space for exhibitions, vegetal growing, and communal cooking coexist to form a living building where stories are shared and made. The residential portion is designed with the same philosophy of sacred space making, with the intent to cultivate a spiritual connection to place and self.
The architecture is intended to exist as a permanent structure within the landscape however the timber interior can be adapted and repurposed, evolving with the inevitable changing priorities of a successive society to follow. Virtually all spaces within the public portion of the USHC are formed without the use of load-bearing wall divisions, with the existing divisions being simple timber elements that either do not extend to full height or have large openings that allow for permeable circulation.