Value Farm 價值農場

Value Farm integrates urban transformation, architecture and productive landscape, exploring community building through farming in the city. A 2,100m2 open area of Shekou’s Former Guangdong Glass Factory is transformed into an expansive architecture of edible plants as part of Ole Bouman’s Value Factory for the Shenzhen Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of UrbanismArchitecture (UABB). Responding to Shekou’s post-industrial regeneration dubbed ‘Shekou Relaunch’, an area that is itself undergoing radical transformation, Value Farm revalorizes the obsolete industrial site with an event-architecture of urban agriculture, while providing it with a permanent regenerative landscape infrastructure.

Design concept

The project’s design inspiration is twofold. The first comes from rooftop farms in Hong Kong’s dense urbanity, as part of the emerging trend of urban farming found in other large cities like New York, Chicago, London and Tokyo that reconnect city dwellers to small-scale, hands-on experience of growing crops offering a more secure, accessible food supply as well as pointing to an attitude, lifestyle change. Second is the lively urban vernacular of Hong Kong’s Central district, in particular the 170 year-old Graham Street wet market precinct and its low-rise fabric that embodied its fine-grain metamorphosis. Facing wholesale redevelopment, Value Farm speculates retroactively turning rooftops of an entire demolished wet market block into farming terrain. Nature is excavated anew from Hong Kong’s urban past; rooftop configurations are taken as “new ground” to cultivate a viable post-urban future.

The concept is transplanted full-scale onto the glass factory premises as “test ground”. Brick enclosures at different heights reference Central’s Graham Street precinct’s demolished rooftop configurations, forming compressed “rooftop plots” with varying soil depths suitable for a variety of crops. Original stair cores are converted into brick platforms and open pavilions to accommodate future activities. A pond was dug to collect the site’s natural underground water source and fed via an integrated sprinkler system for irrigation, while a generous nursery as well as exhibition facilities and a projection room for showing related short videos are also added.

Re-valuing the site

Instead of treating “landscape” as a passive, detached ‘view of the land’, Value Farm emphasizes productive transformation. The site’s existing qualities are revealed, features such as old walls are redeemed and given new life. Trees are kept to reduce environmental impact and became rejuvenated. Resource such as the natural underground water is revived; large rocks uncovered during excavation are recycled to decorate the pond. A circular bench made from reusable materials envelops a large tree to provide habitable shade in summer to complement the productive farming plots. Resonating with the Value Factory’s new production of ‘culture’ within the factory buildings, Value Farm reworks the site to produce “nature”, using farming to revive the land’s fecundity.

A productive architecture of crops

Value farm’s design is multi-layered. The composition of farming plots, platforms and pavilions creates an undulating hard and soft edible landscape, whose differing depths are matched with corresponding crop types. A Hong Kong-inspired mixed, high-density planting considers growing or harvesting cycles, while the choice of crops lie in their botanical or nutritional significance as well as consideration of gardening and visual aesthetics.

For example, the crop covering the largest area is ‘winter wheat’. As the iconic cereal crop, wheat was once the mainstay in Southern China, although it is now much less cultivated after rice became the dominant staple. Besides recalling ancient agricultural memories of place, a side-product, the wheatgrass juice is an increasingly popular health drink that has emerged to satisfy the needs of contemporary city dwellers due to its perceived cleansing benefits. Flaxseed, as the second most abundantly grown crop, is similarly multi-functional and steeped in history. Flax seeds and its extracted oil are used for various culinary and medicinal purposes, while its refined blue blossom provide graceful contrast to the surrounding swathes of green.

Red oak leaf, green oak leaf, lolla rossa, endive and radicchio are chosen as an experiment to grow predominantly imported lettuces locally, as well as for their bright colours. Moreover, as readily edible without cooking, these salad greens are used to demonstrate the farm-to-table idea of healthy eating, allowing urbanites to appreciate afresh the direct relationship between land, food and people. Likewise, the concentrated planting of the many-hued Swiss chard, zucchini, bell pepper and tomato provide colour and volume while adding to the overall visual vibrancy. Then there are

particular versions of carrot, beetroot and radish that are not the most familiar in Shenzhen to cover the typical root crops. Finally a range of common cultivars including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Chinese kale, act as botanical and visual complements to enrich the overall landscape layering.

Cultivating the post-industrial landscape

Recycling a disused factory for agriculture in Shenzhen, Value Farm is designed as a hybrid ensemble of farm, fabricated urban ruins and public garden. Besides conceptual inspiration, Hong Kong seeds and workforce are injected to cultivate refreshing nourishment for all, producing green, food, smell and taste in an engaging and most unexpected way. Apart from creating and maintaining the farm, Value Farm also curated the highly popular Sowing, Tasting and Market Festivals, engaging international curators, architects and design professionals while garnering abundant support and enthusiasm from local citizens, media and community groups.

As a transformative architecture-landscape envisioning responsible eco-revitalization, Value Farm cultivates post-industrial value beyond the biennale. As a permanent conversion, the project received the UABB Academic Committee Award. “The Value Farm is an organic sight of the Biennale, but there is continuity for the farm after the Biennale ends…” said Zhu Rongyuan, deputy director of the China Academy of Urban Planning & Design, Shenzhen. “It is a prime example of how urban green environment can be achieved.” Terence Riley, former MOMA curator and UABB 2011 lead curator noted that Value Farm invokes the “important symbolism of shared ecology”.

Project data

Completion January 2014

Site Area  8,120m2

Architect + curator  Thomas Chung

Design team  Gary Law, Bill So, Sam Wong

Farming Partner  Chi Fai Fung, Founding member, SEED(HK)

Client  China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone Co., Ltd.

Main contractor Jiangxi Construction Engineering First Limited Liability Company

Images  Randy Cai, Dan Lau, Thomas Chung + Value Farm Team.

Innovation

Value Farm is the world’s first large-scale urban farm built to regenerate an obsolete factory, designed as a hybrid of plots, fabricated urban ruins and public garden. 2,100m2 of Shekou’s Former Guangdong Glass Factory is transformed for the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism Architecture UABB (SZ) 2013.

Significance

Value Farm integrates urban transformation, architecture and edible landscape, exploring community building through urban farming. Sowing, Tasting and Market Festivals connected with media and community groups. The research continues in Hong Kong as live rooftop laboratory, and international collaboration with RMIT, Australia “FARM HD Eco-urban food security: Designing vertical food production” supported by DFAT Australia China Council (August 2016- December 2017).

Gold award, Architecture for Social Innovation, HKIA Cross-Strait Architectural Design Awards 2015; Winner, “Architecture, Exhibition Installation” category, Iconic Awards 2015 Germany; Finalist, World Architecture Festival Landscape Category (WAF 2015), Singapore. Value Farm generated 4 awards, 3 book chapters, 8 journal articles, 3 exhibitions, 3 keynote and conferences, and numerous international online media and local coverage.  

Awards

Finalist, WORLD ARCHITECTURE FESTIVAL 2015
Landscape Category; World Building of the Year Award 2015 Shortlist

Gold Award, HKIA CROSS-STRAIT ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN AWARDS 2015 Winner, Academic Committee Award, UABB (SZ) 2013-4

Jury comments: “The Value Farm is an organic sight of the Biennale, but there is continuity for the farm after the Biennale ends,” Zhu Rongyuan, deputy director, China Academy of Urban Planning & Design. “Value Farm is a prime example of how urban green environment can be achieved, an important symbolism of shared ecology.” Terence Riley, former MOMA curator, UABB(SZ)2011 lead curator  Winner, ICONIC AWARDS 2015
Winner for architecture, Exhibition installation category

Nominee, GERMAN DESIGN AWARD 2016 

Online media

Hong Kong Value Farm 香港價值農場 ■ 

ArchDaily Value Farm / Thomas Chung ■ 

Inhabitat Colossal Green Value Farm Flourishes Within a Former Factory in China ■ 

Wirtschafts Woche (Wiwo) Urban Gardening: Auch Chinesen begeistern sich jetzt für den Trend. By Nora Marie Zaremba ■ 

Divisare.com ■ 

Arthitectural.com // arthitectural / Urban Design / Thomas Chung | Value Farm ■ 

Archilovers.com ■ 

Sunday Ming Pao 明報星期日生活 22.02.2015 “Green Living: Rooftop farm transplant in Hong Kong” “綠色生活:天台農場再植香港”,全文 ■ 

South China Morning Post “A model vegetable farm sends a message of sustainability” in Dream Factory, Life, p. C7, ■ 

South China Morning Post: Rusted-out Shenzhen factory reborn as a thriving urban farm ■ 

Ta Kung Pao Hong Kong- Shenzhen Co-farm “Shekou’s 3 Chinese Acres” 大公報 . 港深齊耕「蛇口三畝地」2014-01-14 ■ 

City Life Metro Cover Story: Value Farm + Team. Vol.796. 周末画报. 城市 封面故事: 绿色职人,796期,2014-03-2 ■ 

Value farm | Go.Asia ■ 

Value Farm at Bi-City Biennale of UrbanismArchitecture ■ 

Dotasia Quarterly (20.03.2014) Value Farm: Cultivating the post-urban landscape ■ 

Shenzhen TV News (13.01.2014) Feature News on Value Farm “Urban Border – balancing nature and urban architecture” 城市边缘——平衡自然与城市建筑[深视新闻] 2014-01-13 ■ 

Xinhua News (13.01.2014) “Carving out New City Value – Value Farm Harvest” (13 Jan 2014) “开垦城市新价值 价值农场•蛇口三亩地迎来丰收” 新华网2014-01-1 ■ 

Shenzhen Evening News (13.01.2014) “Value Farm Ushers in Season of Harvest”(13 Jan 2014) “价值农场 迎来收获季”
深圳晚报 2014-01-1 ■ 

Nandu.com 深港创意爆棚,请安排好你的时间表 ■ 

Hong Kong Tech Showcase, APAC Innovation Submit
2014 (04-06.12.2014) 
HKCEC, Convention Centre in Wanchai APAC Innovation Summit 2014 – Highlight 3 on Roadshow ■ 

 

Exhibitions

Chung, T. (2017) “Value Farm” in 10 x 100 Architectural Exhibition. Curated by Yan Gao and Thomas Tsang. Qube, PMQ, Hong Kong. (17 Feb – 5 March 2017) 

Chung, T. (2016) “Value Farm” in Post-industrial Urban Orchard: City after the City curated by NICOLIN Pierluigi and SANCHIS García Maite. Triennale International Exhibition 2016 (Milan) XX1 La Triennale di Milano 2016. vol.21. Milan, Italy. 

Chung, T. (2013) “Value Farm” in Value Factory Content Partner. Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism Architecture 2013-4 (Shenzhen) curated by Ole Bouman. Shenzhen, China 

Publications

Chung, T. (2016) “Cultivating Ground in a Post-Urban Future”. Evergreen – Living with Plants ed. by S. Ehmann, R. Klanten & V. Pease. pp.178-183. Berlin, Germany: Die Gestalten Verlag GmbH & Co. KG (2016.09). 

Bit, E. (2014) “L’ibridazione architettura/natura fra performance di sistema, valori ecologici e benefici per l’ambiente costruito” (Hybridisation architecture / nature between system performance, ecological values and benefits for the created environment) in Complessità e Sostenibilità nel Progetto (CSP), no.10, pp.5-14. Rimini, Italy: Maggioli S.p.A.. 

Chung, T. (2015) “Trapiantare valori post-urbani”. (Transplanting post-urban values in Italian) ACER Revista. no.4 pp.37-41. Milan, Italy: Il Verde Editoriale

Chung, T. (2015) “Transformación de una ex-fábrica en huerta urbana”. Revista P. Especial #5: Landscape. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Piedra, Papel & Tijera SA., 8 pages

Bit, E. (2014) “Value Farm”, in Come costruire la Città Verde: dalla riqualificazione edilizia all’urban farming. Ch.7, Agricoltura urbana, casi di studio, pp.278-283. Napoli, Italy: Sistemi Editoriali, Simone S.p.A.. 

Chung, T. (2014) “Value Factory: The Value Farm”. Volume: Independent Quarterly for Architecture (Journal by Archis + AMO + C-Lab). vol.39. pp.144-147. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Stichting Archis.

Chung, T. (2014) “Value Farm – Transplanting “post-urban” cultivation”. [价值农场: 开垦新价值 ▪ 移栽“后城市化”的尝试] Urban Environment Design (UED), vol.083, no.06, pp.224-227. Tianjin, China: School of Architecture, Tianjin University.

Chung, T. (2014) “Value Farm”. Futurarc – Green Architecture Asia: Liveable Cities Special Issue. vol.38 pp.72-75. Hong Kong, Hong Kong: BCI Asia.

Chung, T. (2014) “Value Farm”. HKIA Journal vol.68 no.1, pp.94-95. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Architects.

Keynotes and conferences

Chung, T. (2017) “Architecture as Productive Landscape: Design as Research Projects”. Paper presented at Farm HD Symposium: Eco-urban food security: Designing vertical food production (2017-04). Research collaboration with RMIT Australia, supported by the DFAT Australia China. (October 2016 – August 2017) ■ 

Chung, T. (2017) “Architecture, Productive Landscape and Eco-retrofitting: Case studies in post-industrial transformations”. Paper presented at Living and Sustainability: An Environmental Critique of Design and Building Practices, Locally and Globally. Organised by AMPS. South Bank University, London. (2017-02) 

Chung, T. (2014) “Cultivating Food, Design and Social Innovation”. Keynote for Eating Your City Conference: Sharing Copenhagen 2014. Copenhagen, Municipality of Copenhagen: Miljopunkt Amager Copenhagen. (2014-09) 

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