CAW Architects completes Oakland urban farm project to deliver 30,000 school meals

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Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography

Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography

Palo Alto-based CAW Architects has completed a food-orientated educational project in Oakland, California. Named ‘The Center,’ the scheme comprises a central kitchen, culinary arts education center, and an urban farm, all designed to provide 30,000 fresh-cooked meals each day to 77 schools across Oakland.

Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography
Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography

The project is anchored by a large outdoor court, shaded under an expansive wood trellis. Designed as a central hub to connect the kitchen, classrooms, and instructional garden, the courtyard is accessed from the classrooms by large glass roll-up doors, creating a natural circulation flow from the classrooms to the courtyard to the gardens and greenhouse.

Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography
Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography

The classrooms include a full-service demonstration and teaching kitchen, in addition to a student education space, with intended users spanning early childhood to young adults. Meanwhile, the central kitchen is designed to allow students to “experience the sights and smells of freshly created meals through bulk serving kitchens.”

Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography
Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography

Outside, the first phase of the project has seen the completion of raised bed sections, a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen, two outdoor classrooms, a greenhouse, and garden work areas. The greenhouse is intended to produce all starter plants from seed to support school gardens across nearly 60 schools, while a second-phase urban farm, community garden, and nature play space will soon occupy the undeveloped portion of the site.

Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography
Image credit: Katie Gutierrez, CAW Architects

Among the sustainability features incorporated into the scheme are a CO2-based closed-loop refrigerant system, a heat-recovery loop to capture waste heat, and a solar-ready roof for future use. Meanwhile, the courtyard trellis is designed to eliminate all glare in the classrooms while still enabling 100% daylight autonomy in all major spaces.

Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography
Image credit: Bruce Damonte Photography

“This one project addresses food justice, health and wellness, and nutritional education for children and families throughout Oakland,” said CAW Architects principal Brent McClure about the project. “It creates a new model for other school districts to follow.”