Landscape Architect magazine features three local sites
Three playgrounds in Santa Barbara County — Jardin de las Rosas in Santa Barbara, Villa la Esperanza in Goleta and Guadalupe Court in Guadalupe — were featured in a recent issue of Landscape Architect, a leading industry publication.
All were developed by People’s Self-Help Housing and cited as examples of exceptional residential recreational spaces.
PSHH serves low-income households, working families, seniors, veterans, those living with disabilities and the formerly homeless in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties.
The theme of the September edition was “Playgrounds,” and the colorful, two-page spread was written by long-time PSHH partner and landscape architect, Robert Andrew Fowler.
The Jardin De Las Rojas site in Santa Barbara features a multi-function almost modern art sculpture-like play structure with the backdrop of a 50-foot-long colorful mural created by local artists, according to the article.
The play structure colors were selected to be a dark plum so as not to compete with the mural.
Since space was very limited, Mr. Fowler wanted the mural to “extend the perceived limits” of the play area and give the children on the playground the feel as if they could jump into the painting.
The main design element for the play area at the Villa La Esperanza
multi-family housing was centered around an existing grove of jacaranda trees. Two play areas were part of the central community hubs for the respective north and south ends of this project.
Mr. Fowler writes in the article that he “wanted the colors to stand out against the simpler coloration of the surrounding buildings, and really accentuate these two community hubs of the site. He credits the inspiration for his brightly colored palette for the play structures to the thematic art of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.”
In Guadalupe, PSHH staff realized that this new multi-family housing project provided play opportunities for the 2-to-5 and 5-to-12 age groups, but lacked activities for the 12-to-15 age group. Mr. Fowler designed this play area along with Game Time to accommodate the older kids by anchoring the area with a 12-foot-tall Omni-Tri Net structure.
According to Landscape Architect, “This main feature was then connected with a series of continuous play elements to have them seamlessly flow from one end to the other. Some of the different sunflower and palm tree play pieces were introduced to complete the composition of the play area to give the flavor of a designed landscape without the inclusion of living plant material.”
Mr. Fowler’s design goals were focused on creating the most visually inspiring playgrounds, within the realm and fiscal constraints of a Section 8 affordable housing project, he explained in the magazine article.
Part of his inspiration to “up the game” of these play areas was influenced in seeing the creative and visionary results of so many other landscape architects whose regional park play areas/playground projects have previously graced the covers of other LASN publications.
Those examples “turned the light on” that even though these housing project play areas had more constrained budgets, they were still missing an opportunity to be far more creative and take advantage of the inherent qualities of each site.
“Rob has been a creative collaborator with People’s Self-Help Housing for many years,” said Ken Trigueiro, CEO and president of PSHH. “He has brought so many of our properties to life with beautiful, dynamic spaces for our younger residents and their families to play and recreate. We are thrilled that Rob was able to share his vision and feature our award-winning properties in this publication.”