community design |design build | outdoor classroom | fifth-year spring studio |15 weeks
studio professor: Stefan Gruber
teaching assistant: Paul Moscoso Riofrio
design and fabrication team: Victor Acevedo, Becky Bairewick, Serra Cizmeci, Irfan Haider, Xiaoyu Jiang, Junhee Kim,Isadora Martins, Pam Pan, Katelyn Smith, Jessica Sved, Aditi Chandrash Thota

exterior rendering

This project is a design build project for a real client, the Manchester Charter School (MACS), located in Manchester, Pittsburgh. The school came to us for a request of solving two major problems, the lack of parking and the lack of outdoor activity space. MACS also earned several vacant lots adjacent to the school where they see as potential site to solve the two issues. The whole studio with the studio professor, the teaching assistant and 11 students worked as a whole to create design proposals for the redesign of parking, the design of playscape and community garden. This page would mainly focus on the design and fabrication of roaming porches on the community garden site, which also became the main product that we ended up delivering to the school.  

Issue Finding

Design Process

We proposed long-term and short-term scenarios for the community garden site, and the short term proposal is to fabricate these roaming porches to be used by the school as outdoor classrooms and by the students as hanging-out place, even as object redefining vacant lots in other part of the community.

outdoorclassroomFLATTENED (2).jpg
porchsite [Converted] (1).jpg

Final Proposal

The three porches designed for MACS serve different functions, including a classroom module, a lounge and library module and a lab module to facilitate outdoor educational and leisure activities of the school and the community.

Construction Drawings

Fabrication Process

The fabrication of three roaming porches took five weeks with a team of eleven in the wood shop and a budget of $3,000. The porch is made of wooden structure and plywood surfaces with fabricated steel parts, bicycle wheels and metal stakes. The fabrication process involves woodworking, CNC routing, metalworking and painting.

Earth Day Celebration

The classroom porch and the lounge porch were shipped to Manchester Charter School as part of their Earth Day activities. The porches were introduced to the faculty, students and parents of MACS and they naturally fit into its context, with their color palette, styles and movability.

The porches are not only welcomed by the school, as teachers and students used the porches as bird feeder station and sitting space on Earth Day, but also embraced by the Manchester community. Dennis Henderson, the deputy CEO of the school, told us that after one week of Earth Day, he saw a group of about 15 people from the community hanging out on the porches.