The Diversion Design/Build Studio is structured over 6 months, broken into two distinct phases: a design-specific course for graduate students taking place in the Spring term and a construction-oriented course for graduates and undergraduates taking place over 4 weeks in the summer term. The design phase is structured in the manner of a small practice, with client meetings, consultant meetings, volunteer meetings, and close collaboration with the festival site manager in coordinating the tight, preordained installation period.
In addition to the temporary performance spaces, our students partner with community organizations and local architecture firms to collaboratively design additional projects that might benefit from the prefabricated components utilized in our temporary work. Designing for multiple projects is based around the concept of pre-use design. In pre-use design, we focus our initial creative energy on identifying building components that might be needed for unrelated, underfunded projects that serve a meaningful public good.
In the 2018 Diversion Design/Build Project, our students designed and built (113) 32’ tall, wooden pin-wheel columns specifically designed for combined use in 2 separate projects; (1) a temporary performance space and (2) a variety of permanent additions to a local homeless sleeping-pod village. The temporary performance space is an exercise in experimental design and construction while the permanent community project is a pragmatic and elegant solution to a growing local problem. After engaging the imaginations of thousands of festival-goers as a temporary installation, our students work transforms into meaningful shelter for 24 homeless women living at a local women’s sleeping-pod village.
The Treeline Stage bridges the forest condition and the field condition at Pendarvis Farm. In order to accentuate this dynamic, we constructed a field of steadfast columns, of monumental size, that
align at several distinct moments and have a scale that engages the human body, the trees and the landscape that unfolds to the east. One hundred and thirteen columns are clustered in a regular grid that peels away from the back edge of the performance stage, extending across the first terrace and encompassing the slope immediately to the east. This field of rooted uprights delineates an interior space bound overhead by a canopy of wandering cross-braces, at once complex and sheltering, inviting movement through and around groves of pin-wheel timber extrusions.
The labyrinthine field of this year’s design invites festival attendees to wander its interior, unearthing multiple paths and areas of destination carved out within the dense web of columns, discovering
winding routes implied by the seeming tangle of cross-bracing. The columns rest on firm ground but register the profile of its slopes, their limbs intersect to embrace each other like participants in an
amiable crowd, and their tips in conversation with the movement of the sun, dissolve into the transcendent blue yonder.
As you walk through and around the structure it changes its identity while framing the landscape in a thousand ways, encouraging you to lose yourself in the exquisite detail of this magical place, its
textures, its colors, its sounds, its smells, its closeness, its horizons…. as you discover yourself in the vital emanations of live music.
The Diversion Design/Build Studio at Portland State University’s School of Architecture is a student-led design experiment aimed at exploring the rich experiential qualities of architecture through the design and realization of temporary celebratory spaces while simultaneously exploring the value of responsible/ethical design practice. We’ve called this experiment the Diversion Design/Build Studio referencing two core strategies of our work; (1) the diversion of non-typical, re-useable, and dual-purpose industrial materials/components for use in temporary construction and (2) the diversion toward non-typical experiences like those embodied in festival gathering.
Having now completed 5 entirely unique Treeline Stage designs since 2014, these efforts have resulted in what we feel are exciting and innovative projects both architecturally and in response to the issues of material re-use, sustainable design, public service, and the enrichment of human experience.