The ability to respond quickly to a design challenge is one of the strengths of TERRA.fluxus. This was proven recently with a fast-track project to complete a courtyard remodel at the School of Nursing at Oregon Health + Science University (OHSU) campus. The courtyard was completed in the early 1990s, and sits partially on structure and partially at grade – nestled into a shade corner of the Southwest Portland, Oregon campus. The space acts as a fishbowl with 3 and 4 story spaces overlooking the open plan, minimal furnishings, and lack of scale. There are areas of sun and shade that make the space either too dark and cold or too sunny and hot, so the challenge is finding ways to incorporate microclimatic conditions along with division of space to provide private ‘rooms’.
The additional challenge was that design and installation needed to be done within the current fiscal year – meaning a deadline of June 30th for the project to be complete. We met with facilities folks to get a run-down on the situation and check out the site, then quickly prepared two concepts that utilized screening of space, similar to the planter-based strategy employed at the recent Washington Medical Center project. The creation of outdoor rooms with vegetated structures provided necessary scale and enclosure, coupled with reuse of planters and plantings. The addition of sculptural planters, overhead tensile structures, lighting, and bamboo rounded out the space, along with plans for furnishings and other amenities.
The overall plan was meant to provide a simple spatial arrangement and placement of elements – which we fine-tuned to meet schedule and budget – eliminating expensive or long-lead time items. This was reviewed and approved by School of Nursing administrators, and the race to install was on!
The quick timeline meant finding available planters, furnishings, plant materials, and adaptively re-using the spaces. Contractor Teufel Landscape went out of their way to find available materials in short timeline, and to ensure that building residents were happy – meaning no disruption of classes or other activities while transporting materials through the building.
The transformation is evident in these before and after shots of the planter at grade:
The space from the balconies above, showing the site during planter placement early in the week and the final result. The simplicity of the offset geometry becomes evident in the replication of a simple form overlapped to create a variety of spaces for privacy as well as socialization. This pattern also was meant to activate the visual interest from above office and classroom windows – rather than staring down on a concrete and brick desert.
And some additional images showing the final spaces – an extreme two-week makeover with spaces to be enjoyed on the ground and from above.