A Collaboration: Gettliffe Architecture / University of Colorado Environmental Design Studio Class

 In Culture, Design, Sustainable Design

As a way to foster connection and to promote placemaking within our design community, team members Raquel Mayorga and Alicja Hudson participated in a collaboration with an Environmental Design Studio class at CU taught by Marianne Holbert.

Raquel and Alicja joined the class during sessions throughout the semester, examining the function of placemaking as a response to social and environmental issues, and offering their feedback and insight on students’ work. Concurrently, Raquel and Alicja are spearheading a placemaking effort at Gettliffe Architecture, focusing on public projects that nourish social interactions and promote cultural exchange. The class was also joined by Mandy Vink, Public Art Coordinator at Boulder’s Office of Arts + Culture, who discussed available public art and placemaking opportunities and the process of coordinating with governmental bodies on those projects.

Class discussions ranged from the practical, to the conceptual, to vivid imaginative leaps. What problems exist in the here-and-now that could be addressed through the careful design and implementation of placemaking – and what problems could we extrapolate might exist in the future, and what would the architectural response to those problems look like?

Students submitted their final project designs to the 2016 Laka Competition: “Architecture That Reacts.” Impressively, two CU projects placed in the international competition. 2nd Place was awarded to CU students Ryan Clement and Eric Dell’Orco for their “Suburban Swell” project. Their concept projects the quintessential suburban cul-de-sac onto a vertical, high-density design, integrating suburban privacy with urban efficiency.

An Honorable Mention was also awarded to CU students Tyler Laird and Harrison Smith for their project “Urban Acupuncture.” Examining the environmental problem of impermeable parking lot surfaces in urban areas, the project proposes a solution through the lens of the “alternative medicine” of acupuncture. Selectively fracturing the impermeable surface at its “stress points” allows for vegetation growth and water absorption. An open and web-like surrounding structure creates a trellis for vegetation growth, seating areas, and areas for bike parking.

The success of the GA/CU collaboration has provided a solid foundation for the evolution of the placemaking design initiative in GA’s studio.  Keep on the lookout for our efforts to support strong communities and cultural exchange through strategic and creative urban design interventions.

Gettliffe Architecture is a Boulder, Colorado architecture firm offering green design services from straw-bale homes to eco lodges around the globe. We believe that beautiful modern architectural design begins with careful consideration of earth, culture and community. Working with your ideas and vision, our team of green architects brings inspiring spaces to life that are kind to the planet and a pleasure to be in.

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