The new face of cooperatives may very well start with our gardens. Living in the city, many of us are faced with the reality that we may not have the space to grow our food or worse, not be able to afford the food we need. Our recent pandemic sure revealed, more than ever, how much we need to rely on our communities, health systems and robust sources of local food.

As architects, we carry a certain agency to make changes to our lifestyles, to serve a revolution that we are facing right now in human history. There is potential to improve and incorporate more resiliency in our cities and it could start right in our homes. The unique concept I have proposed in my project, Block Botanic, supports those that may not even have the luxury of having a home in the first place and secondly, many no even have a job. Block Botanic is a low income housing project that merges the idea of localized farming with cooperative living. When you live in “Block Botanic”, you get to support the buildings very existence and in return have the basics, at minimum, clean water, food and comfortable shelter space.

When we look at the primary reason cooperatives fail, it is that funding depletes until there is nothing left which is when everyone has to leave. With Block Botanic, as a resident member, you are trained to strategize your designed living space to support the best possible outcome of return, return on effort. Let us not forget how satisfying it is to harvest after all your hard work and diligence, the activity of taking care of the gardens builds community and fosters self purpose.

Thermodynamics, Illustration by Moni El Batrik

In terms of architecture, where this gets super interesting is that we can draw from nature to use its elements in order to perpetuate our results. Thermodynamics, Water systems and Solar Analysis of the site and its surroundings all play a role to inspire the buildings shape, form and function. I decided to go with a round footprint for Block Botanic not only for its fungi growing on a tree reference but to observe the map that could apply to the overall garden plan of the entire building. Starting with the super sun loving foods such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber at the south facade then the partial shade loving foods like kale, green onions, root vegetables, squash to the shade lovers like garlic, parsley and ginger. Working with environment is key, gardening for resilience is also worth every effort.

Block Botanic, Garden plan, Architect & Illustration by Moni El Batrik

Block Botanic is a Project of IAAC, Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Master of Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities in 2020/2021 by Moni El Batrik and the faculty: Jochen Scheerer, Oscar Aceves