As the Garden Canvas Project has been narrating the process throughout the designBridge year we’ve realized that it always originates back to the pendulum swing between two practices: designing and building. But these two practices aren’t completed as sequentially as we initially anticipated. The process occurs more like a wave: from design to build and then back to design and then building and this continues. This method has held steady through the entire process. The lesson we’ve learned most is that you can count on one thing: nothing ever goes exactly as planned. And so, when things don’t go as planned, we go back to the design. The fun part has been in this back and forth, in the figuring out of how to still build the project so that the design is maintained. As we progress into the last build phase, or should I say design build design build phase, we know we will find bumps similar to those in the first phase, but they will be smaller and fewer. All the same, the Garden Canvas Project Team is excited to finish!
The current incarnation of the project (above) shows quite a lot of improvement over the last time we posted on this blog. Its clean, attractive and well-landscaped. Please compare the image above to the image below of the group’s conceptual scheme of the project developed before construction began.
The last time we updated the blog was just at the beginning of the construction phase. Major developments since then are as follows:
The steel c-channels have been set and their concrete footings has been poured successfully. The c-channels were drilled and rods were pushed through them; this is part of the scheme’s intention to allow artwork to be hung on and between the c-channels.
The river rock coverings for the footings have been installed as well as the steel edging for the sides of the rock beds.
The decomposed-granite pathway has been installed and steel edging has been installed to give it clean, crisp edges. The ornamental river rock beds have also been installed. Notice that the welcoming bench element which was originally schemed for the project has been put on hold and is not part of the current incarnation of the project.
The original pavement on the site has been demolished and the new permeable pavers have been installed in its place as we see here in this image of the South side of the site.
As we see here on the North side of the site, the pavers provide a new, more effecient space for the studio’s dumpsters to sit. The new placement of the dumpsters was a major part of the original schematic intent of the project.
The dry-stacked stone wall has been built and the landscape beds have been dug and installed next to it. Building the stone wall was one of the most labor-intensive parts of the project to date. Please see the “process” section of the blog post below for some more information about how the dry-stacked stone wall came together.
The following portion of the post contains an abbreviated account of the construction of the project:
The first thing that needed to be done for construction to begin was some major site cleanup. This image shows the removal of a large, ugly bush which was sitting right in the middle of the site. It had to be cut up first and then dug several feet out of the ground.
This image shows the team digging the trenches for the c-channels and their concrete footings. This portion of the project was rather labor-intensive and required the effort of the whole team. The excavated soil was donated to the UO Urban Farm (located about 100 feet away at the East end of the Millrace complex) and was used for their garden beds.
Next, the concrete pavement on the site needed to be demolished to make way for the permeable pavers schemed for the site. We had UO Facilities Services cut the pavement for us using a special saw. As you can see, they cut the existing pavement into uniform rectangular blocks for us. We had originally intended on repositioning these blocks on the site and using them as our permeable pavers, however as the project progressed it became clear that they were to large and bulky to perform the function we had them schemed for.
The cut concrete blocks were stored on a palate in the courtyard behind the site. We had originally intended to reuse them on the site but they are simply leftover materials at this point. We would love to donate them to a worthy project or find some way to recycle/reuse them.
The next stage of the project involved constructing wood support jigs for the c-channels. These jigs were designed and engineered by Tim McAdams and Kody Nathe. They serve as a system to hold the c-channels in place so that they remain straight and true while and after their concrete footings dry.
Before the concrete for the footings was poured, the jigs were covered with waterproof tarps to prevent water from getting sitting on top of the concrete as it cured. This image shows the first stage of the pouring process. Since so much concrete was needed for the project, we hired a local concrete company to mix it and deliver it for us. We were fortunate to have access to a cement-mixer truck with a movable trough capable of pouring the wet concrete directly into the trenches.
As you can see the jig was designed to carefully hold the c-channels in place as the concrete cured. We wrote a commemorative message in the we concrete; however, at this point in the project the message is covered by a bed of river rocks.
The dry-stacked stone wall was constructed over the course of several weeks using team-member and outside volunteer labor. In order to increase the viability of the project and to encourage outside participation we organized the construction of the wall as a series of learning workshops hosted by designBridge and taught by master mason Sean Scully, who was hand selected for the job. The stone used in the project was hand selected from Willammette Valley quarries. We chose a local basalt stone for two important reasons: first, a major part of the schematic intention of this project was to display a variety of beautiful local materials; secondly, selecting locally-harvested stone meant that it didn’t have to be trucked in over a long distance- saving us money and helping to maintain the sustainability of the project.
We selected a simple small concrete brick for our permeable pavers. They were carefully laid in staggered rows with a 1/4″ of space between each of them to allow the water to drain through them into the earth. No mortar was used to hold the pavers together, instead they were carefully tamped into the ground to keep them in place.
The channel for the decomposed-granite pathway was excavated 4″ deep. We then dumped several wheelbarrows full of decomposed granite into the channel and used a earth-tamper to tamp it all down to an appropriate density. Some decomposed-granite pathways employ a special resin to hold the granite together. However, for this project we used pure DG without resin- the aim being to make sure that the pathway remained water-permeable.
One of the last steps of the construction to date was the laying of fresh mulch over the non-paved areas of the site. This was part of an attempt to make sure that the landscaping on the site looks clean.