Knoll Farm Outdoor Classroom
September 7 - November 7, 2017
Over the course of two months a group of middle schoolers designed and built a play structure around an apple tree at Knoll Farm in Fayston, VT. The project drew inspiration from the philosophy of Vermont's design/build architectural movement, which took place between 1964-1977, and the child-built structures at the Adventure Playground in Berkeley, CA. This project was supported by a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council.
Session 1: Planning
September 7, 2017
We started by visiting the proposed build location in the Knoll Farm apple orchard. In between the laughs and screams a few ideas started developing for a raised platform with a climbing wall. As more thoughts started flowing we decided to go back to the shop to draw.
Everyone sat down and drew their ideas on paper. Each participant then shared their ideas and talked about all of the possibilities for a play structure that infused learning with movement. Their visions included a combination of ladders, ropes, trapdoors and swings. At the end we synthesized everyones ideas and came to an agreement to begin with an elevated platform wrapping around one of the apple trees.
Session 2: Framing
September 14, 2017
Today we sketched with 2x4's to visualize the height of the posts for our structure. Prototyping with 2x4's (instead of heavy 6x6 posts) allowed the group to design the structure in place and gave them the opportunity to work together holding up boards and problem solving as a group. They used levels, clamps, drills and screws to build a temporary model of the permanent structure. After a few adjustments and variations the group came to a consensus and took measurements before dismantaling the mock-up.
Back at the shop we transferred our measurements onto the 6x6 posts for the permanent structure. After cutting the posts to size the group finished the session by staining them apple red.