Sustainable Land Lab winners announced April 11

An outdoor chess park. Cargo containers transformed into compact restaurants. A sustainable urban farm.

On April 11, Washington University in St. Louis and the City of St. Louis will announce which of these or several other concepts will win the inaugural Sustainable Land Lab Competition, the first of its kind in St. Louis.

The public announcement will be made at 10 a.m. April 11 in the City Hall Rotunda. A public celebration with presentations from the winners will take place later that evening. Winning teams will receive a two-year land lease and $5,000 seed money to start their project.

The land lab competition, which began in November, allows teams to compete for the opportunity to create a two-year demonstration project to transform a vacant lot into an asset that advances sustainability.

Forty-eight teams applied in the first of a three-round effort. The final round consists of eight ideas representing 10 of the original teams.
Ideas competing for the four awards include:

  • Bistro Box: The Bistro Box concept is a small business incubator that transforms surplus cargo containers into a compact restaurant and culinary destination.
  • Carbon Carpet: The Carbon Carpet team proposes to install warm season grass plantings on unutilized urban lots currently owned by the LRA. Plantings will be positioned to afford educational, financial, ecological and social benefits to neighbors, city residents and fellow inhabitants of spaceship earth, in that order, respectively.
  • Chess Pocket Park: COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY supported through Chess Pocket Park – outdoor community chess venue for residents with a permanent location supporting our primary community asset – its people.
  • HUB (Hybrid Urban Bioscapes): A productive landscape and a public space. The intention is to share knowledge and strategies with local residents about how to cultivate and maintain a food producing garden while having a place to gather.
  • Mighty Mississippians: A modern agricultural and sustainable living model, the premises for this approach are rooted in regional history, the Mississippians and their ancestors, as well as modern permaculture practices. Using concepts of permaculture, the site would demonstrate the interdependent relationships that work efficiently and sustainably in nature and that worked for previous civilizations, from the soil to the birds, to humans.
  • Renewing Roots Urban Farm: A scalable urban agriculture network that proposes to transform blighted lots into cost efficient models of sustainability.
  • ShiftUP: A community space to rent, maintain, and learn about bicycles. As a bike hub, shiftUP would encourage bikers from other parts of St. Louis to visit Old North and interact with the community.
  • Sunflower+ Project: Proposes turning previously developed urban lots into a community asset through the planting of sunflowers. With a goal of eventually spurring redevelopment of these vacant parcels, the project will serve as an appropriate, scalable, and productive transitional solution.

The winning teams will present their ideas at an evening celebration at 6:30 p.m., April 11, at Bridge, 1004 Locust St. This event is open to the public.

All of the submissions can be found online at

The competition brief, which outlines the goals and context for thisinitiative, can be found online at

The Sustainable Land Lab is a partnership between Washington University and the City of St. Louis. It is the ongoing legacy of Washington University’s three-day Sustainable Cities Conference, held Nov. 1-3, 2012.The Sustainable Land Lab is designed to be a living laboratory of two-year demonstration projects, which will showcase innovative ideas and integrated strategies for transforming one of the region’s greatest challenges — vacant land — into an asset that can advance sustainability.