I am an environmental artist and visionary with...
For those of you who haven’t heard, the latest ‘Greenhouse by Joost’ – a pop-up restaurant where absolutely everything is focussed on sustainability – has been set up in Melbourne, Australia, for the Food and Wine Festival. (Watch the Greenhouse film).
I am delighted, not just because it gives me another opportunity to showcase the great food that we produce, but mainly because it is another forum to demonstrate just what we can all achieve by working together to design better places for people.
This latest Greenhouse is the culmination of years of discussions with designers, engineers, builders, scientists, farmers, chefs and many others whose knowledge and advice are reflected in every aspect of the operation, from the lighting and menu through to the fresh baked bread and the worm farm.
My initial idea was to have a display home that showcased a productive building, to prove that we can all live sustainably. But if you want to get people excited about a building you need to engage all their senses – smell, taste, texture, sound and sight.
A hospitality venue does all this and heightens the buzz with cool music which creates a vibe. Suddenly, people want to know what exactly excites them about this place.
I wasn’t trained as an architect. I just want a building to be simple and logical and practical. With the Greenhouse, pretty much everything is here for a reason. I used recycled plastic pots to compost restaurant waste and produce great soil for our plants. I made beer glasses from old beer bottles and melted down old champagne bottles to use as plates. To me there is no need to have waste at all – you just have to think about the end product and work backwards.
For example, why would you get crates of bottles from a dairy farmer who has to send his milk out to be bottled if you can take it in buckets? So I designed a fridge that takes a bucket and a pump to take the milk straight from the fridge so you’re not opening the fridge all day. As a result, the fridge uses less energy, the milk arrives cold and stays at that temperature, and I’m pumping milk out that’s much better, safer, cleaner, and we’re dealing directly with the farmer.
Collaboration is everything for us. Collaboration of ideas and collaboration in how and what we use. I love the fact that we get farmers coming in here eating, sitting down with our chefs and everybody talking. If my guys don’t speak to the farmers how will we ever know that he’s got too many cauliflowers which we can use by adding fried cauliflower to our menu?
We don’t preach. But a lot of people feel that they’re discovering new ideas when they come here. That’s the real focus of the Greenhouse – to open up people’s minds to the possibilities of working in a more sustainable way. Not just here, but everywhere, and especially in the urban environment.
I think the next generation is going to be amazing, with trends that push buildings more towards creating habitats than monumental structures. This will evolve into creating suburbs that are greener and lusher – because people feel better around plants.
The Greenhouse project is part of that process – it’s about lifestyle and the choices we make. It shows that productive buildings are possible and that we can all live sustainably. And crucially, it’s not some far-fetched idea. It’s here now – and the Greenhouse can help offer alternative solutions that tread that fine balance between functionality, sustainability and beauty.