New Affiliates and architect and historian Samuel Stewart-Halevy created the Testbeds project to repurpose architecture models from luxury real estate projects in the city, which are often built of durable and high-end materials but soon discarded, and turn them into community projects like garden sheds and classrooms.
The concept was developed after they realised the similar sizes between such mockup structures and existing sheds around New York. They wanted to reuse the designs that typically go to waste for projects in underserved communities.
"While mockups often consist of high-end and resilient materials, they are usually discarded after undergoing a series of reviews," the team said. "A significant amount of waste results."
The programme is a way to funnel "architectural resources from New York's luxury real estate market to neighbourhoods in the outer boroughs that have been historically disinvested," it added.
A pilot programme is currently underway in Queens at Edgemere Coalition Community Garden with New York City Parks' GreenThumb division that supports over 550 gardens in the city.
Renderings of the design show a gabled building with corrugated concrete panel walls and covered outdoor walkways that link a greenhouse, community room and tool shed. A covered patio overlooks the garden, and a chain-link fence encloses the property.
"The idea that you could take a fragment from 100 feet up in the air in Tribeca and put it on the ground in the Far Rockaways and someone can actually walk up to it and access it and inhabit it is exciting to us," said New Affiliates.
The team is currently raising funds for construction for later this fall and is also seeking help to discover more models and build the projects. Another site is proposed for a garden in the East Village neighbourhood of Manhattan with a proposal to create a small white volume in a garden between two apartment buildings.
The Testbeds project provides an example of how to save waste from architectural and design construction. In a similar project in Senegal, a school was built using test facades originally created for a hospital.
Based in Brooklyn, New Affiliates is led by Ivi Diamantopoulou and Jaffer Kolb and in 2020, the studio was awarded the American Institute of Architects' New York New Practices Award. In addition to this project, the studio has also renovated Brooklyn loft with a plywood mezzanine and built an asymmetric cabin in Vermont.
Images are courtersy of Testbeds.