Deployable Smocked Porch
Architect: substance architecture
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Category One: Up to $150,000 in construction costs
Conceived as a riff on the screen porch, this “parklet” was designed to be deployed in parking spaces in Iowa’s cities and towns. This structure utilizes modest means (but high craft) to create a welcoming space.
This small, handmade space was conceived as a "deployable smocked porch." Deployable because it is small enough to be moved once it is made; smocked, due to the embroidery technique utilized to pleat and sew the layers of insect screening together; and a porch, referring to the archetypal space that is created both inside and outside.
A simple wooden frame defines the small space and supports two porch swings. The smocked screening creates curtains that can be opened and closed to allow access, as well as provide shade and enclosure. This curtain is comprised of multiple layers of screen fabric that are sewn together using an embroidery technique known as “smocking”. The “smocked” skin provides shade and modest privacy while allowing the summer breeze to pass through. The roof structure is constructed of recycled lumber, providing protection as well as a connection to the past. A rectangular opening in the roof allows a defined shaft of daylight to enter the space. This opening is echoed in the small turf area cut into the floor, introducing some greenery to cool the space.
The project was designed and constructed adjacent to the courthouse square in Winterset, Iowa as a pro bono effort to support the Iowa Preservation Alliance. The wood was salvaged from a demolished home and the labor to sew, fabricate, and construct the space were provided by the design team. As a result, the budget for the project was $900 (screen material, fasteners, and cross-bracing).
"A delightful intervention that successfully melds handcraft into a refined, yet mysterious, experience, embodying the possibilities for small-scale, tactical work." ~ Jury comment
This small, movable structure creates a shady respite from the harsh Iowa sun. This “parklet” was designed to be deployed in parking spaces in Iowa’s cities and towns. This structure utilizes modest means (but high craft) to create a welcoming space.
Within an urban context, this is a small, but welcome gesture. It suggests the bigger impact made possible by introducing shade, plant life, and access to cool breezes; at less than $1,000, it is replicable many times over.