Soil Kitchen is a temporary, windmill-powered architectural intervention and multi-use space where citizens enjoy free soup in exchange for soil samples from their neighborhood. Placed across the street from the Don Quixote monument at 2nd Street and Girard Avenue in North Philadelphia, Soil Kitchen inhabits an abandoned building and places a windmill atop to pay homage to the popular windmill scene in Cervantes', Don Quixote. Rather than being "adversarial giants" as they were in the novel, the windmill at Soil Kitchen is a functioning symbol of self-reliance and literally breathing new life into a formerly abandoned building. The windmill also serves as a sculptural invitation to imagine a potential green energy future and to participate in the material exchange of soil for soup - literally taking matters into one's own hands. This exchange provides an entry point for further dialogue and action available in the space through workshops, events and informal exchange. Soil Kitchen provides sustenance, re-established value of natural resources through a trade economy, and tools to inform and respond to possible contaminants in the soil.

Soil Kitchen was commissioned by Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy using a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation. Soil Kitchen coincided with the 2011 Environmental Protection Agency's National Brownfields Conference. Soil Kitchen offered free pH and heavy metal testing and produced a Philadelphia Brownfields Map and Soil Archive. In addition to serving soup and testing soil, the building is a hub for exchange and learning; free workshops including wind turbine construction, urban agriculture, soil remediation, composting, lectures by soil scientists and cooking lessons.

Above: Don Quixote Monument at 2nd and Girard Streets in Philadelphia.

Above: Abnadoned building and brownfield across from the Don Quixote monument

Above: Windmill installed on building.

Artists Dan Allende, Ian Cox, Amy Franceschini and architect Lode Vranken assembled to create a new, temporary, public art project in Philadelphia.

Amy Franceschini, Lead Artist
Amy Franceschini is a pollinator who creates formats for exchange and production that question and challenge the social, cultural and environmental systems that surround her. An overarching theme in her work is a perceived conflict between humans and nature. Her projects reveal the ways that local politics are affected by globalization. In 1995, Amy founded Futurefarmers, an international collective of artists and in 2004, she co-founded Free Soil, an international collective of artists, activists, researchers, and gardeners who work together to propose alternatives to the social, political and environmental organization of space. Amy is a professor of Art + Architecture at the University of San Francisco and a visiting artist at California College of the Arts Fine Arts Graduate program.

Lode Vranken, Architect/Collaborator
Lode Vranken has been practicing architecture internationally since 1993. IN 1993, he received his masters in a UN Course on Human Settlements + Architectural Philosphy. He has been teaching since 2005 as a Ned delegate at The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain and from 1993-94 at the Asian Institute for Technolgy in Bangkok, Thailand. He is a partner in Palladio studio in Belgium. Palladio is know for their zero energy housing and social creative process. Lode co-founded a research coalition, De Bouwerij Architect, that focuses on social living structures for passive houses, Cradle 2 Cradle buildings and zero energy construction. His research is focused on new concepts for small, self-sufficient living units; folding buildings, kinetic structures, rolling shelters all with zero carbon dioxide emission.

Dan Allende, Project Manager/Collaborator
Daniel is an artist, builder and inventor. He received his B.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College Art. Allende’s multifaceted and social-engaging work includes installations, videos, performances, and sculptural objects, often created in collaboration. In 2009, Allende collaborated with Futurefarmers on the Reverse Ark: In the Wake at the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, Maryland and on the People's Roulette for the Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture.

Ian Cox, Build Team/Collaborator
Ian is an artist, explorer, and creative problem solver. Exploration of our world with an imaginative open mind is at the heart of Ian's interests. In much of his work he shows specific phenomenon from unique perspectives to look at what we think we understand in new ways. Ian first worked with Futurefarmers in 2009 on the Reverse Ark: In the Wake at the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. He is currently studying Interdisciplinary Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Build Team
Dave Archard, Michael Hunt, Ian Cox

Workshop Partners:
Kyle Sirianno
Cosmic Catering
Fair Food Philly

Contributing Photographers:
Myriel Milicevic
Brian Rudnick
Sam Newman

Thank you:
Dan McShane
Theresa Rose
Robert Wuilfe
The Allende Family
Audrey Snyder
Myriel Milicevic

Project Commissioner:
Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture & the Creative Economy

Philadelphia Dept. of Licenses & Inspections
Philadelphia Dept. of Public Health
William Penn Foundation
US Environmental Protection Agency
2011 National Brownfields Conference

Rufo Properties
MJK Structural Engineering

In-kind Donations:
Bennett Compost
Philly Homegrown
Awesome Dudes
Philadelphia Brewing Company