November 28 2013

A Self-Contained Urban Lot: Food, Water, Electricity & Community in Kansas City

In mid-2008, DST Systems planned to construct a rain garden at 18th and Broadway, in the historic Crossroads Art District just south of downtown Kansas City, MO. Partnering with 360 Architecture, the plans evolved to showcase the sustainability of living spaces and green practices, transforming a vacant lot into a self-resourceful and reliant innovative urban community garden complete with solar power, storm water management and recycling systems and engagement of the local community.

Presently, this half acre land feeds around forty people a day, with provisions of redirecting rainwater for irrigation purposes, creating an arable oasis for harvest. By teaming up with Harvesters Community Food Network, 18Broadway is exploring new techniques for intensive high-production gardening. With the help of local volunteers, single crops are planted from spring to late summer. The garden is surrounded by informational signage that encourages the surrounding community to come and grow their own vegetables, as well as provides budding urban gardeners further information to take up this hobby.

18Broadway, Kansas City


The urban gardening trend is highly dependent on a steady supply of water, and with an average of 5,000 cubic feet per rainstorm, the park, which acts as a garden and a farm, receives around a million gallons of water a year. Adequately designed alley and curb swales, in addition to bio-filtration systems, serve to retain a 100% of the downpour water supply, and are incorporated into the area to naturally reduce pollutants during the initial downpours. In addition, storm water filtration techniques are utilized to capture, purify and reuse storm water and divert it from Kansas City’s storm sewer systems. With the help of a 40,000-gallon underground cistern storage system, water is UV–treated and pumped back to the gardens for its irrigation needs.

18Broadway Solar Panel, Kansas City

Distribution for this water supply is primarily powered by around 1,800 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels which power electric pumps and hydrants located below the rain gardens. When not utilized, the solar panels can provide enough electricity to charge an electric car. In the future, the project aims to include an electric charging station at the locations peripheries. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the project plans to explore holistic housing development in the area that is both energy conserving and socially equitable. The primary objective is to reduce costs, while providing a healthy home environment for local occupants to live.

In a culture of rapid urbanization and decentralized power generation and distribution, which will have a dramatic effect on urban spatial structures, is it feasible to replicate such urban lot projects? What kinds of future land use issues could arise in such sustainable infrastructure strategies of mixed-use development with projected increases in population density?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Sunny Sanwar

Sunny Sanwar originates from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and currently resides in Kansas City, Missouri. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Sunny is also a Columnist for the Daily Star, the largest English newspaper in Bangladesh, and is currently working in local government at Jackson County, Missouri. This multicultural and interdisciplinary background gives him a holistic understanding of socially sensitive issues in energy and environment around the world. His graduate dissertation thesis in Public Policy dealt with local level emissions reduction strategies. His 2008 "efficiency over performance" project called the KU Ecohawks, aimed for urban transportation to not rely on conventional fossil fuel sources that pollute the local and global environment, but instead run on local wastes. Completely off grid, the mono-crystalline solar cell powered workspace charged the cars, with no energy taken from the main power lines. He also founded the Sustainable Built Environment Initiative in his native Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, which was renamed Bangladesh Green Building Council (BGBC) in 2011, when it became the national representative of Bangladesh, as part of the World Green Building Council in Toronto, Canada. Supported by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fellows, the council provides a centralized national board for green building certifications, courses and outreach, as well as consultancy services to private construction firms, think tanks and government initiatives.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 28th, 2013 at 9:01 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Housing, Infrastructure, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Social/Demographics, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “A Self-Contained Urban Lot: Food, Water, Electricity & Community in Kansas City”

  1. Bio-Retention Breakthroughs in Kansas City, Missouri Says:

    […] the storm-water, improving water quality for any creeks or steams that receive water downstream. 18Broadway also has a smaller version of bioretention […]

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