Grace FarmsAn afternoon at The River Building
Developed by SANAA, an acclaimed Japanese architectural firm, the building cuts a sinuous trail across the immaculate grounds – framed by tall, wild grasses and flowers – blending in effortlessly with its surrounding environment.
Grace Farms sits on 80 pristine acres, tucked away in New Canaan, Connecticut, feeling perfectly tended to. If you were to stumble upon it during a hike, you’d get the sense that you’ve been let in on a secret. At a certain beguiling level of beauty, places tend to project the impression of exclusivity. But what makes the allure of Grace Farms special lies within its modesty and openness. Grace Farms is a place, quite literally, for everyone. It’s a community centre, and a paradigm of what such a place could be in an ideal world – an inspiring, creatively engaging, and caring centre that not only serves the local people, but any passerby that has made a decision to visit.
Grace Farms Foundation is also incredibly active in pursuing their core initiatives to incite real change in the community, overseeing projects in areas such as nature, the arts, faith, and justice. It leads one of the largest charges against human trafficking in the US, hosting workshops, educating the public, and helping pass measures into law.
When you visit, the first thing you’re likely to notice is the architectural design. The non-profit centre is built around a slick, serpentine structure aptly named ‘The River Building’. Developed by SANAA, an acclaimed Japanese architectural firm, the building cuts a sinuous trail across the immaculate grounds – framed by tall, wild grasses and flowers – blending in effortlessly with its surrounding environment. With one, long continuous roof supported by a series of slim, white beams, the experience of looking down onto the winding steel roof from afar – softly glistening in the afternoon light – elicits a feeling of serenity that is akin to observing a gently flowing river. It’s the kind of Walden-esque experience that is usually reserved for the deepest recesses of nature.
Nestled under this roof, you’ll discover five different buildings – or volumes, per SANAA terminology – with each one surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows offering a 360° view, letting the outside in. Here, you’ll find places to meditate, to eat, to borrow and read a book, to listen to a concert or a lecture, to play basketball, to take art classes, or simply to indulge in a quiet tea ceremony.
- Words & Photos: Matthew Johnson