The Senior Architecture students were tasked with the Parklette design/build. (Architecture is one of the 6 'majors' that CHAD offers and which students choose to pursue their senior year.) The students had 5 days to come up with ideas, develop them, build some study models, prototype some details, assemble the materials needed, build the components and install them. Most of the materials had to already be in the building. My analogy is that it's like opening the fridge and figuring out what to make for dinner.
The idea started with a desire to include the entire school community in the Parklette design and creation. They wanted everyone to contribute. They also wanted to engage the passing-by public: to offer an opportunity for community engagement and creation participation. Inspired by some napkin sketches seen during the AIA 2016 Convention at the Center for Architecture & Design in May, we decided this design tradition would be a great, low tech/high reward activity. Everyone at school was offered an opportunity to contribute a sketch or two on provided napkins-- so was the public on Park(ing) Day. We ended up with hundreds which accumulated over the day.
Then came the task of the design. There was a lot of conversation about a way to hang the napkins like paper towels. We remembered the boxes of tubes donated by KSS from last year's Park(ing) Day. They were stored in a closet down the hall. (I often just say yes to donations, having no idea to what good they'll come, but confident that the use will appear when the time is ripe.) Then came figuring out how to attach the napkin drawings to the tubes. After several failures, we hit upon the bungee cord detail as a simple but effective detail. (The bungee cord was a trash pick by one of our history teachers - we're a resourceful lot.) The conduit frames were a given, a recycled system we use several times a year for various design/build activities. We decided to weave and stack the tubes with the frames, kind of like Lincoln Logs, to create stability and visual interest. The whole assembly was held together by zip ties. A few palettes created a raised platform area with the drawing table next to the display area which sat on sod (delivered by an angel at the last minute). We used chipboard for a 'subfloor' and asphalt paper tiles for the 'finished floor'. This added another drawing surface, for chalk - a throwback to the old days.
Reflecting afterwards, the students LOVED the whole experience - start to finish - including touring the neighborhood to see other teams' designs. We've decided that the napkin sketch is definitely going to be CHAD's thing for Park(ing) Day: a new tradition. We saved all the tubes (and have more). Considering the strengths and weaknesses of the design, one thing the seniors have tasked next year's crew with is to come up with a more stable frame system. Onward!
Director of Design Education