KidStructure is an outdoor pavilion designed to “spark the imagination of the young and young at heart” for the Omaha Botanical Garden’s summer exhibition. It is inspired by the agricultural forms of the Great Plains and conceived as a fun yet educational vehicle for children to learn about corn from seed to harvest.
The pavilion is bounded by rows of corn planted so that children can observe its growth on repeated visits over the course of the summer. Four illustrated panels in the pavilion’s main level document the lifecycle of corn, providing simple scientific explanations. Kids have views over the surrounding gardens from the top deck, while an overhead canopy of mesh screens patterned with abstracted corn stalks provides shade. The slide is reminiscent of the harvested corn pouring from the combine to the grain cart ready for market.
In form and massing, KidStructure is evocative of the combines that harvest Nebraska’s cornfields each autumn. The slanted walls suggest imagery of the decaying farm structures that dot the surrounding countryside, remnants of the early settlers who brought vernacular wood construction methods to the American Midwest from Europe. These pure and simple building techniques are the basis of KidStructure; light-frame walls and sawn lumber columns are tied together with wooden cross-bracing to create an economical and versatile structure while the exterior cedar screen echoes the corn-crib structures used to dry and store grain through the winter.
Sustainable Design Elements Include:
- Brownfield Site: a former garbage dump for the city turned into a public park and botanical garden
- Cedar sourced from standing dead growth trees
- Mesh shading and natural ventilation diminishes the need for air-conditioning
- Corn-crib air gaps facilitate natural light penetration
- Lifecycle Design: following the exhibition, the installation was relocated to a private residence.
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Size: 312 SQ. FT.