SANAA: river building in grace farms, new canaan
SANAA: river building in grace farms, new canaan SANAA: river building in grace farms, new canaan
oct 01, 2012

SANAA: river building in grace farms, new canaan

‘the river’ by SANAA, connecticut, USA image © SANAA all images courtesy of grace farms


pritzker prize winning international firm SANAA has just unveiled their plans for the ‘river,’ a building on a small portion of the 75-acre woodlands and wetlands of grace farms in new canaan, connecticut. the public space will snake through about an acre of land as a winding concrete, steel, wood and glass structure creating pockets of spaces where visitors can gather or admire the landscape. its glass facade sits under a solid roof canopy like a river flowing naturally through the hills sitting 10 feet above the ground, creating a space that is inherently immersed in the site. the project will include a church that will hold services on sundays, a library, dining room, children’s spaces, a gymnasium and a general-purpose meeting area. off-site parking adds to the non-intrusive sensitive relationship to the surrounding nature, and in fact actually preserves the quite peaceful character of the site better than if it were subdivided into ten separate lots as was decreed prior to the new design.

a light structure winds over the hills like a river image © SANAA

kazuyo sejima of SANAA explains:

‘our goal with the river is to make the architecture become part of the landscape without drawing attention to itself, or even feeling like a building. we hope that those who are on property with have a greater enjoyment of the beautiful environment and changing seasons through the spaces and experience by the river.’

previously called windsome farms, the land was one of the last privately-owned plots of property in fairfield county. the city moved to buy the land ten years ago but could not reach a cost agreement with the owners in 2005. the grace farms foundation is now proud to offer 72.5 of the 75 total acres of the beautiful ecosystem as free public space for the community, enhanced by SANAA’s structure.

transparency diminishes its impact on the site image © SANAA

solid glass volumes are interrupted to make exterior spaces under the roof plane image © SANAA

rolling hills and lush meadows act as the backdrop for the project

preserved natural site


project info:


client: grace farms foundation landscape architecture: OLIN estimated cost: 50-60 million dollars

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    502,534 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample