After a decade of designing and building homes for deserving Navajo families, we wanted to create something the entire community could enjoy. As the first design-build studio initiated by the CU Denver Department of Landscape Architecture, our students designed a Riverwalk Master Plan to enhance the experience of the magnificent surrounding landscape for residents and visitors to Bluff. The first installment was a community shade structure along the Bluff River Walk. Motivated by the practical need for human comfort from the intense desert sun, Shadeworks emerges from the land by taking on an organic curve resembling the red rock alcoves seen in the local bluffs. Running the length of 80’ along the North/South axis, the curved structure visually peels away from the earth just enough to create a space to sit, protected from the scorching southwestern sun and wind during the summer and embraces the warm sun during the winter months. The emerging curve is expressed through a tension membrane structural system. The fence-like structure is supported by tensioned cables triangulated as they pull opposite directions to the angled vertical posts. The posts are supported laterally by cables running the entirety of the curve anchored at each end, where they equalize the forces pulling from the triangulated cables. Locally found willows are woven perpendicular through the cable to soften the aesthetics of the engineered structural system and blend the structure into the surrounding landscape of tamarisk, willows, and towering cottonwoods. Nestled below the raised curve, an intimate space creates a moment of pause for those walking to stop and relax. A small inviting path branches away from the main walkway to guide the visitor into the shaded space with benches made from local fallen cottonwood tree trunks.
University of Colorado StudentsTara Abbaticchio, Matthew Annabel, Kennith Biesiada, Brian Brehmer, Sarah Doyle, Molly Haberman, Patrick Healy, Jennifer C. Leach, Greg Laudenslager, Kelley Price, Jacob Rocamora, Jessica Stonberg, Caitlin Tamposi, Trevor Toms, and Byungsun Yang.