New Found Land I:
A Proposal for a Rooftop Farm for The Yokohama Museum of Art

New Found Land I is a manifestation of an agrarian fantasy and a platform for active social engagement through the development and maintenance of an organic farm on the rooftop of the Yokohama Art Museum.


“Japan, which has limited natural resources, imports around 60% of the food it consumes – a higher rate than any other rich country. Public concerns have mounted about tainted food, particularly produce imported from China. In the past year, Japanese people have fallen ill from eating Chinese frozen dumplings and green beans laced with pesticides.”

-Rooftop farmers help cool down Tokyo, Harumi Ozawa, Agence France-Presse, Nov 5, 2008

Industrialized food production is something we previously have taken for granted. We seldom consider where an egg comes from, nor do we often contemplate how long it takes to grow an onion. Similarly in an art museum, one never really sees art in production; it merely appears, on the wall or in a pristine white room, for the convenient consumption of viewers. In both cases, the general public’s only engagement is with the final product, never the messy process. New Found Land I is a project that refocuses attention on the production process and offers visitors an alternative agrarian experience to what is expected from an art museum in the center of an urban metropolis.

The organic farm is a literal manifestation of the art museum’s role as a place that “nourishes” the mental and spiritual health of a community. And just as the artworks in the museum act as windows into other worlds, the rooftop farm too is an alternate utopian vision, a parallel universe that is physically mapped onto the architectural footprint of a major cultural institution.

The museum/farm operates on several levels simultaneously: a place to celebrate creativity and culture, a gathering place for members of the community and a center for the production of food. All of these elements together build a symbiotic relationship where the vitality of one affects the robustness of the others. The aim is to cultivate all of these elements together in New Found Land I.

Project Description:
The New Found Land rooftop farm grows seasonal vegetables; composts its own waste; feature free-range chickens and beehives for honey. The farm is open to the public during regular museum hours. Office workers in the neighboring high-rises will take their lunches up on the roof. Lovers will find a quiet corner to cuddle. The suicide rate in Japan will drop.

The museum organizes regular lectures by local food producers, environmentalists, architects, social activists and anyone else who has interesting or relevant projects and has ideas to share. Seasonal food festivals and cooking classes will be held on the premises. Ritualistic prayers for rain and dances for good harvests will take place on the roof.

Produce from the farm will be sold as museum store items. The price will be equal or less than normal supermarket prices. Profits from sales will be used to maintain the farm and help pay staff. Volunteers are welcome to help work the farm. People that buy produce will make wonderful meals to share with family and friends. The suicide rate in Japan will drop.

The New Found Land farm revitalizes the local economy, grows safe food, capitalizes on underused urban real estate, helps combat global warming and creates a space for nature in Minatomirai. The farm is a positive force that opens alternative avenues for exchange and interaction between the art museum and the local community. The rooftop will be beautiful, lush, functional and organic; it will be landscaped for full aesthetic impact. It will smell divine.

Project Elements:

• Aesthetically landscaped organic farm growing seasonal local produce
• Public access to the museum’s rooftop
• Composting – transforming biodegradable waste from the café and offices into rich soil
• Bees for local honey
• Free range chickens and eggs

• Locally produced art museum “branded” vegetables, honey and eggs sold in the museum shop
• Reduction of waste
• Educational resource for urban farming
• Employment for local workers, reinvigorating the economy
• Cooling of the local environment

• Consultants: farming experts well versed in organic growing and familiar with local crops
• Staff: crop maintenance, beekeepers, chicken farmers, labor to help with
initial construction of the infrastructure, labor
• Planters, ideally recycled
• Materials to build planter boxes, benches and other architectural/ sculptural features
• Seeds / Sprouts, local heirloom vegetables, edible flowers
• Soil / Mulch / Woodchips
• Water source
• Drainage system
• Equipment for beekeeping
• Equipment and shelter for maintaining chickens
• Chicken feed
• Cooperation of the elements: sun, rain
• Time