[Agro-office Parks with a nod to Andrea Branzi. All images by Tomer Diamant]

Picking up on the intermittent series of student projects, included is a project by University of Toronto M.Arch graduate Tomer Diamant titled Büroland(wirt)schaft. Tomer began his research on speculative development and the hyper-efficiency of (spec) office buildings. Looking closer at the siting of office parks at outlying urban areas, he recognized an opportunity to capitalize on a stop-gap program of seasonal greenhouse agriculture.

[Vacant land opportunities along Highway 407 in north Toronto. Yellow dots indicate significant office locations, and the box at center is his designated site for the Bürolandwirtschaft case study.]

He writes:

This project proposes a hybrid typology that combines office space with industrial greenhouse agriculture, revisiting the Buro Landschaft (office landscape) schemes proposed by the Quickborner Team in the 1960’s, filtered through the lens of current global concerns. Buro Landwirtschaft (office agriculture) could make use of the weakest terrains of contemporary urbanism, sites abutting utility corridors, regional infrastructure and light industry. Low land-values would allow for the financing of large footprint buildings composed of paddy-like cells that could be converted from office to agriculture and back, with the prevailing economic winds. The built-in sliding programme is intended to provide an economic damper in volatile market conditions, while affording a degree of spatial flexibility that is not available in normative spec buildings and leasing structures.

[Comparative inputs and outputs of greenhouse agro and typical office use.]
[Biomass v Datamass. The dirt on information...]

The basic scheme inverts a normative concrete slab so that its upturned beams form discrete drainage cells. The beams are designed to accommodate service chases for each respective use. When in agricultural production mode, the cell is filled with irrigated soil. When in office mode, the cell becomes a pressurized plenum built from off-the-shelf raised floor technology. The slab is elevated, so as the cells are converted between office and greenhouse use, parking below can give way for additional head house space required by agricultural production. Head house and parking requirements are inversely proportional, allowing the programmatic adaptability to play out on both levels. Since air is only delivered through the office plenum floors, it is possible to imagine that positive pressure could mitigate humidity infiltration from the greenhouse, allowing for ephemeral internal partitions.

[Where greenhouse meets desks.]
[Axonometric outlining program (with its homegrown cafe, of course) and circulation. The undulating hexagonal roof panels suggest courtyards and entries.]

In the final version, the project explores the layering of multiple structural and service geometries, with the ambition of creating internal spatial conditions that are not overburdened by the linear nature of a patent glass roof system. Parking is integrated into a diamond-shaped structural cell that is carried up to support a roof structure of vaulted hexagonal modules. Since the vaults are derived from toroidal geometry, the modules are planar and highly repetitive. Each full hexagon holds a pillow-like ETFE assembly, the opacity of which can be controlled using electro-chromatic technology. Along the vault ridges, half-panels provide computer-controlled operable ventilation. The structural dia-grid accommodates a secondary geometry of drainage cells within the elevated slab. The building is envisioned as a large-scale, elevated mat, in which the office programme is serviced through a central courtyard while the greenhouse is serviced from a perimeter ring. The office grows from the inside out and the greenhouse grows from the outside in. In this scheme, there are no corner offices and all outward views are filtered through the greenhouse spaces. Several smaller courtyards satisfy exit requirements while providing additional light below.

[Interior plan showing office plots. The plot pattern dovetails into a typical parking bay grid at grade.]
[Buroland(wirt)schaft at work.]
[View from access road.]

If you would like to contact Tomer about his research and project, you can reach him here.

Previous Student Works: Vivian Chin's Convergent Species


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