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.