Grounded worked with the staff at the Virginia Institute for Autism to create a flexible courtyard that would provide an attractive and relaxing space for teachers and students to enjoy throughout the day. For the teachers, a space to sit individually or a group at lunch was important. A safe outdoor classroom for the students was equally crucial. With a tight budget and volunteer labor provided through the Building Goodness Foundation, Grounded developed a simple plan for the space.
The "Spectrum Garden" is a nod to the range of abilities in all of us. It uses shades from dark to light on the vertical faces of the courtyard. A black slate chalkboard mounted on one building provides the classroom space, a grey fencing panel provides screening and separation from a rear facilities area, and a white-painted brick wall extends the space out to the school's main entry to invite visitors into the space.
Curved planting beds create separate gathering areas and a soothing pattern of movement for the students. The beds collect storm-water from adjacent paving to water greenery in hues ranging from chartreuse to dark emerald. The selections reinforce the spectrum theme in plant form.
This project is currently under construction with the Building Goodness Foundation.