The High Life: How A Farm-Condo High Rise Concept Could Change Apartment Living

The architectural firm West Baker Creative Group are hedging plans to build a super-green apartment block in NYC.

By Annette Barlow August 23, 2016
Photos courtesy of Weston Baker Creative Group

They don’t call cities “concrete jungles” for nothing: When street after street is monopolized by grey pavements and towering solid structures, green space feels like nirvana. Which is why New York’s High Line park is so popular—a lush panacea to the smog and sweat of city life, without having to leave the comfort of your own neighborhood.

So it will it come as music to many New Yorkers’ ears that multi-disciplinary architectural firm West Baker Creative Group are hedging plans to build a super-green apartment block that not only borders the High Line, with views of the lush greenery a boon for residents, but also features an impressive 10-story indoor farming terrace.

Related: Check Out These Hidden Rooftop Houses All Over New York City: For The House That Has Everything

Yes, a farm-apartment combo, right in the heart of the Big Apple. And you can forget any ideas about old warehouses and railway-sleeper raised roof beds you may have: This is a state-of-the-art proposition, one that draws heavily on the sun’s daily movements to both help the seedlings reach their potential and also douse the building’s residents in life-enhancing light.

With its unique, twisted interior, each story comprises both farm terraces and apartments. Official proposals for the 12-story glass-clad project have not yet been filed, but plans also include a top-floor observation deck and an art gallery, both accessible from the High Line.

Photo courtesy of Weston Baker Creative Group

But it’s not the publicly accessible spaces that have got everyone talking: it’s what’s available to the building’s lucky residents. Namely, access to 10 farm terraces, where fresh fruit and vegetables will grow daily. It’s not yet clear who would be responsible for the growing (something tells us that if it’s left up to tenants, there’ll be an influx of kale and tomatoes and not a whole lot else), but the concept is an intriguing one.

It’s a particularly interesting idea given the relatively tiny parcel the project is intended to be developed on—a 200-foot mid-block, 2-story parking garage, earmarked for development by Dutch architect and Harvard University Professor Rem Koolhaas. So how do West Baker Creative envision all of the above fitting onto such a compact site?

A small concrete base will sit atop a green park space, its walls reaching upward-and-outward until they reach eye-level with the High Line. Here, the glassy art gallery will be situated, and the rest of the tower will reach beyond.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it might just be: Given the strict zoning laws in West Chelsea, this is all still totally hypothetical. But whether it materializes or not, it poses some (vegetarian) food for thought about how new construction should be approached in the future.

Annette Barlow



Annette is freelance editor, sub-editor, journalist and proofreader with a fierce love of all things feminist, food and music. She is a regular fixture on the arts, culture and feature desks at The Guardian, and her words have appeared on NME, Great British Chefs, The Fly, The Line of Best Fit and Australian Times.

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