In partnership with Texas Tech and FBT Architects, Groundwork Studio worked with the nonprofit Parkway Sommerville Center to create a Learning Garden for the Center’s at-risk student population.We worked to secure funding for the project through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and developed promotional materials for community outreach. Community members donated $50,000 to provide site furnishings and musical instruments, and an additional $150,000 in private donations was used to support the playground install.
The Learning Garden added a 3,700-square-foot outdoor classroom, providing a safe, comfortable and educational space outside of school hours for the Center’s at-risk student population. The garden includes a shade structure, seating, pathways, trees and plants to support and facilitate instruction for the youth development curriculum.
This project demonstrates Groundwork Studio’s ability to directly address community needs through design. In addition to providing a comfortable and safe outdoor space that extends the regular classroom area, the Learning Garden provides students with the opportunity to engage in creative activities and interact with natural material, plants and agricultural methods. Natural, interactive learning environments like this have proven to increase student focus, composure and creativity due to the stress-reducing effects of nature. The second phase of the project added a nature-themed playground and interactive rock fountain to provide an imaginative escape and promote play and activity for the students.