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Public Works: Grow Your Own Lunch

A new school in Vietnam brings agriculture into the curriculum.

Public Works looks at public space, urban design, and city-building innovations from around the world, and considers what Toronto might learn from them.

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Years ago, children in Canada got their summers off so they could help out on the family farm. Nowadays the fields have been bulldozed into Home Depots and tract housing, and the apple-cheeked farm kids have been replaced by sunken-eyed device gnomes.

But a school under construction in Vietnam plans to bring the kids back to the land. A 500-student kindergarten for the children of factory workers in Pou Chen has taken the green-roof concept one step further. The building has a rooftop garden where pupils can learn about agriculture while actually growing their own food.

The building, designed by Vo Trong Nghia Architects, is designed in three loops. On the lower levels are three internal courtyards that serve as playgrounds. They ramp up to the rooftoop vegetable garden.

The school also incorporates a number of other innovative and green features, such as solar water heating and water recycling. Recycled construction materials are being used throughout.

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School gardens are already popular in the GTA, with initiatives like the Field to Table Schools program helping teach kids the wheres and hows of old-fashioned unprocessed food. But with school boards already running on budgetary fumes, it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to pony up to build a fancy green school anytime soon. Still, the idea of incorporating space for a little agriculture may be one whose time has come.

Hat tip to Inhabitots.

Images courtesy of Vo Trong Nghia Architects.

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