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Could Urban Farms Be the Preschools of the Future?

A group of architects proposed a new design to help raise environmentally responsible kids.

Under the distant gaze of a city skyline, cows and chickens wander through rows of sprouting vegetables; clear glass greenhouses dot the periphery. It sounds like an ordinary urban farm, but on this particular site, the wardens are toddlers.

The farm, Nursery Fields Forever, is the vision of aut- -aut, a group of four architects hailing from Italy and the Netherlands. Their proposal for a preschool on an urban farm took first prize at this year’s AWR International Ideas Competition; the challenge centered around designing a nursery school model for London.

“The dominant preschool system keeps children in classrooms, where plants barely peek out from the window,” and animals are only visible in places like zoos, Jonathan Lazar, one of the architects, tells CityLab, adding:

The absence of direct experience has completely misled children’s perception of the world and of its most basic processes. It’s not rare to find children who ignore that the milk they drink comes from cows or that beans don’t sprout in cans.

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