Natural Playscape

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The final product.

Before.

Before.

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Typical conditions from a rainy day

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Early schematic design charrette with the parents and staff

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Site plan from our design studio, including asphalt/wood bike loop, two-tier sandbox, reconstructed planter beds, log climbing structure, and complex lamella playhouse. Final results were simplified during the build term.

Existing odd-shaped foundation, referred to as the "crow's nest". We decided to preserve it's entirety, based on how much time and effort was spent demolishing the incomplete concrete bike loop.

Existing odd-shaped foundation, referred to as the “crow’s nest”. We decided to preserve its entirety, based on how much time and effort was spent demolishing the incomplete concrete bike loop.

We used our massively strong architect arms .

We used our massively strong architect arms, and demolished some concrete that was contributing to the flooding issues.

We traded a few boulders to a backhoe operator, who moved the larger ones to a safer spot.

We traded a few boulders to a backhoe operator, who moved the larger ones to a safer spot further away from the sidewalk.

All in the details. Routing out the base of our playhouse columns to hide a steel plate.

All in the details. In the dB shop, routing out the base of our playhouse columns to hide a steel plate.

Team prepping to raise our mostly pre-fabricated structure

Jess, Billy, and Brook prepping to raise our mostly pre-fabricated structure onto the steel fins poking out of the sonotube footings. Here you can see the deck and steps that we built over the crow’s nest, all from reclaimed 4x4s.

Attaching purlins

Attaching purlins.

We worked with a landscape architecture student to complete details for the rain garden system. She created a plan for new vegetation, and headed up the build-day to get them in the ground.

We worked with a landscape architecture student to complete details for the rain garden system. She created a plan for new vegetation, and headed up the build-day to get them in the ground.

The roof is on!

The roof is on! Team on site to tinker with the downspouts.

Part of our plan included the "totem" elements. In an effort to preserve the flexible environment for the kids, we constructed parts with holes and notches for unprescribed use. I was on site during the winter to replace a broken pipe cap when I saw that the kids had totally taken over one side of the playhouse with a web of jump ropes.

Part of our plan included the “totem” elements. In an effort to preserve the flexible environment for the kids, we constructed parts with holes and notches for unprescribed use. I was on site during the winter to replace a broken pipe cap when I saw that the kids had totally taken over one side of the playhouse with a web of jump ropes. I could not have been happier.

Complete. Here is a blur of a child riding on the decomposed granite bike patch.

Complete. Here is a blur of a child riding on the decomposed granite bike path.

DESIGNBRIDGE is a design-build student group with curriculum support through UO’s Department of Architecture, dedicated to bridging the gap between designer and client/user through community involvement. The group takes on projects for entities in Lane County who cannot otherwise afford the services of a licensed professional. The “designBridge year” consists of Fall, Winter, and Spring term courses covering initial project proposals, site analysis, programming, schematic design, development, construction drawings, permitting, and building. The Natural Playscape project was commissioned by the Co-Op Family Center, a childcare program within the Spencer View Apartments in Eugene. They wanted to renovate their existing outdoor play area to be flexible, safe, educational, fun, and most importantly, no longer flood during the rainy season. Total project funding was $5000.

Prior to my team’s intervention, the playground had a severe drainage problem, causing it to flood during heavy rains. This blocked access to the play area and created a slipping/drowning/mosquito hazard for the kids, ages 3-6.

We conducted site analysis, play workshops, and community charrettes, working with the parents and teachers to address safety concerns and educational opportunities for our designs to encompass.

We developed a program to include a rain garden drainage system, continuous bicycle loop, a covered area with a rainwater catchment system, and something to climb on. But, as designBridge is truly a small design-build firm, much of our scheme had not been fully developed when we entered the build phase. This allowed us to make adjustments based on projected time/budget constraints that developed after we broke ground.

The playscape was completed in the fall of 2012. Many thanks go out to the kids, parents, and staff at the Co-Op Family center, and the rest of the designBridge volunteers who helped design, dig, cut, hammer, ratchet, paint, and plant.

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