Sankofa Gardens

Urban Permaculture Center  

Pittsburgh, PA
Joshua Bard, Tonya Markiewicz
Fall 2017
This project embodies two key philosophies. The first is centered around the Twi or Akan word Sankofa that roughly translates to “return and retrieve it”. As an idea it is often associated with the proverb of the same culture: “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates as “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten”. The other ideology is permaculture, a way of living in which we understand our systemic relationship to the world around us; it is an approach to finding sustainability in all things around us.

This center will combine these two philosophies. Sankofa provides the cautious and wise understanding of our agricultural history, and permaculture provides the way forward. It will serve as a location for the dissemination of this knowledge, the gathering and strengthening of the Homewood community, and a showcase of the many techniques involved in sustainable urban agriculture.

Formally the project draws inspiration from the Sankofa Heart, embodying one half in formal built environment, the other incomplete half in landscaped terrain, symbolizing the connection between human and nature. It lies low in the landscape, not disturbing the reserved nature of the surrounding urban fabric while still being formally unique enough to attract immediate attention and serve as an anchor for the neighborhood.

In addition to the architectural design, a Permaculture Primer was developed. Intended as a quick-start guide for those who are unfamiliar with those concepts, the brochure goes hand in hand with the intent of the project.

A preperatory study of the neighborhood was done before beginning: Grow Atlas