Functional green, was one of five carte-blanche projects at the Vienna Design Week 2011. The centre of the project was an a bit ailing market in Vienna, the Volkertmarkt. This was the place, were we wanted to initiate something. We wanted to provide to a higher identity of the market-traders with their market, we wanted to improve its aesthetic quality, and make it also more attractive from the quality of offered food. And on the other hand we wanted to provide to more self-initiative and a higher identity of the residents living around the market. A youth-centre, that is visited mainly by children with migrant background is located next to the market and should also play an important role in our project. As it was clear very fast, that the most important clues for our project were social aspects and health issues (in the context of food), we tried to develop a project that is composed out of small project pieces, that have as a main topic urban farming.
We tried to cover the aspect of self-initiative and identification of the residents by occupying (legally) the parking-lot in front of our studio, installing on it roll off turf, growing salad on it and having a table outside to have brunch with friends. The idea behind this was also to show how much interesting things you can do on a spot, that normally is taken away by a parking car. It is about 20 square meters, on this space you can have fun with a bunch of people and grow a respectable amount of vegetables during one year.
Another small project was greening a vegetable bed, installing some kind of “hanging garden”, and building a bench directly at the market. This space was used before more or less as a dog toilet. As this spot is near a small market café, this area got more and more attractive and the frequency of the café clients rose. Unfortunately the dog owners didn’t see so much an improvement in it, what provided to a very soon death of our turf. But as this project shall be continued we are working on a strategy how to deal with this problem.
With the children of the youth-centre we’ve built a small vegetable bed, out of bakery boxes, where they grow this year (2012) strawberries, tomatoes, peppermint… Gardening with the children was an important aspect of the project as we could talk to them about food, especially vegetables, and explain to them (with the help of a specialist), how to grow vegetables, how to care about plants, and why organic food healthy and tastes well. The children were very happy about the opportunity to learn something about plants.
The last part of our project was based in a former slaughterhouse near the Volkertmarkt and was more of a work-in-progress project. During the the exhibition we have tried to experiment with the plant as a media. We have worked with formal and functional aspects, that could change the appearance of plants, especially vegetables in our homes. Besides a small watering and organic bokashi fertilizer system we have installed an aquaponic system in the scale of a normal piece of furniture. In our aquarium were living crawfish, the dirt water was filtered through the plants growing above and these plants were fertilized by the dirt water. An aquaponic system shows an interesting natural circle and has to be considered as a small “farm” that you have in your living room instead of a conventional aquarium with colourful fish.
After finishing the exhibition at the Vienna Design Week we are still cooperating with the youth-centre and hope to set up a small community of local residents that will reinstall and care for the vegetable beds.
Special thanks to our supporters, Vienna Design Week, BMUKK, Wien Kultur, Reinsaat and Gesunde Leopoldstadt and to our friend Richard Mahringer.
cooperation: Richard Mahringer
foto: A. Jawkerth, A. Rosinke, M. Chmara