In what is the fifth year of the Zumtobel Group Award – Innovations for Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment – an international expert jury awarded an honorable mention award in the young professionals category to Nest We Grow—House of Food, for Food, a collaborative project between College of Environmental Design and Kengo Kuma and Associates. The international architectural award, curated by Aedes Architecture Forum Berlin, honors contemporary built or conceptual works that make a significant contribution to greater humanity and sustainability in the built environment and its design.
Nest We Grow was originally the winning entry to the 2014 LIXIL International Student Architectural Competition, a design contest for university research laboratories hosted by the LIXIL JS Foundation. The winning design was then built out over the course of only six months. Spearheaded by Professors of Architecture Dana Buntrock and Mark Anderson, the student team was comprised of Hsiu-Wei Chang (M.Arch '14), Fanzheng Dong (M.Arch '14), Hsin-Yu Chen (M.Arch '15) Yan Xin Huang (M.Arch '16), Baxter Smith (M.Arch '16), and Max Edwards (M.Arch '14).
Situated in the Memu Meadows of Hokkaido in Japan, Nest We Grow serves as a community node that is able to reveal food growth and consumption. The goal was to create a space that draws visitors by appealing to all five senses and attracts them with offers such as nature walks, scenery for gazing and dining. Food production and treatment are addressed through programs dealing with the entire food cycle. Intense involvement of community members makes the Nest a platform for group learning, gatherings and activities throughout the year.
The openness of the facade blends the surrounding landscape in with the Nest’s built environment. Transparent facade and roof sheets allow sufficient light for the plant growing areas and ground floor kitchen, thus extending the usability of the Nest during colder months. Sliding panels facilitate natural air movement throughout the building during the summer and warmer parts of the day. Furthermore, a tea platform is located at the upper level to allow cross ventilation during summer months and thermal mass warmth generated by the skin during colder months.
A concrete wall at the base of the building creates a micro-topography that helps block the prevailing northwest winter wind. This wall contains soil within various openings along the sides and top to grow a multitude of crops. The funnel-shaped roof harvests rain water and snow melt, which is collected and stored in tanks to irrigate the crops planted in the concrete wall. On the third and fourth level, planter boxes are arranged in which local vegetables are grown.
The distinct shape signifies the building’s ability to transport natural infrastructure supplies in the form of air, water and light into the Nest. The building consists of a composite timber construction, compressing small pieces of wood to generate a larger column. Local carpentry practices and the Japanese material market influenced the technique to join the materials.
“The Zumtobel Group Award emphasizes the importance of architecture for human beings. Architecture determines how people feel in the built and urban space and how they live there,” said Karin Zumtobel, Head of Arts & Culture at Zumtobel Group. “The Zumtobel Group Award addresses this topic and, just like our lighting solutions, places people in the centre of the living environment.”
A total of 347 projects from 48 countries on five continents were submitted for this year’s award. A first-line jury reviewed the entries and submitted a smaller number to the main jury, comprised of leading figures from around the world of architecture, as well as experts in the new technologies. The jury then selected five projects per category as nominees and chose a winner from among them in each category.
“In the space of ten years the Zumtobel Group Award has become an established international competition. The Award puts the spotlight on the challenges posed by the design and development of current and future built environments, but that is not all,” explained curators Dr. h.c. Kristin Feireiss and Hans-Jürgen Commerell from Aedes Architecture Forum, Berlin.
“Because over the years we have continuously adapted the parameters of the Award to the ever-expanding technological possibilities and increasingly digitised processes, enabling the resultant social interactions to be taken into account as the winners are selected.”
Watch a video of the Young Professional Honorable Mention winners here.