IntroductionA friend asked me to design amini-golf course for the WalkerArt Museum next summer to bedisplayed in the sculpturegarden. After the first meetingthat introduced the mini-golfhole project, I felt it would be agood opportunity to bringawareness, in a fun way, tosustainability. Over the courseof the summer the Walker artmuseum is expecting 50,000visitors to mini-golf alone. Thisallows for a great opportunityto bring awareness to thegeneral public on how designscan be sustainable as well asbeautiful, inexpensive and wellmade.
The motif is a miniature golfhole with a Japanese stylearched bridge leading to a Zenrock garden. The bridge is tohelp with access to the teeand rock garden, with a mapletree to add to the ambiance.Rocks in the corners of thefairway are used to bounce theball through the course, as wellas a chute that leads from theupper level to the lower underthe rock garden above
This design is a mini-golf coursehole and interactive artscapebuilt with reclaimed wood,found materials and 100%recycled products. Theplatform itself is composed ofpallets fastened together withrecycled steel screws andcapped on top with recycledfiber-rock board. The fairway iscarpeted with sustainablyprocessed and recycledcarpet remnants. The rocks,gravel, and sand are takenfrom nearby rivers andbeaches, which will bereturned after their use in theproject.
Needs assessment The needs being met though this project is to offer a fun way to educate the public about sustainability, and to bring greater attention to the Walker Art Museum and sculpture gardens. Art has been used for thousands of years to change public consciousness towards acceptance of new and emerging philosophies. In this case, I hope to create an example that will stick in people’s minds of sustainability being simple. Rediscovering the way we have done things in the past when we incorporated nature into our designs and crafts, and returning the designs back into the environment they came from when they have served their purpose.
Strategic recommendations Some of the biggest challenges that I faced were problem solving for design issues such as stability, durability, usability, choice of materials, and assessment of sustainability. Designing for simplicity helped reduce the issues each some of these challenges. I wanted to create a simple design motif that gave me flexibility to use just a few types of materials. Natural materials such as rocks, gravel and sand were easy to find for free and could be used for the project and then returned back to their proper environment.
Stability Stability is a very important challenge with the amount of traffic expected for this course. The first two levels of pallets (each four inches high, are anchored with stones from 6-12in. in diameter, this was an alternative to concrete. The next two levels will be built on top of that and except for the area for the chute, will be further packed with gravel and then sand. This will then be enclosed with recycled fiberboard on top. I am planning that the center garden area will stabilize the structure more as things settle.
Durability Durability is a huge concern, as it will be outside exposed to the elements and weather. The site is supposed to be dry and not prone to pooling water, however any standing water must be eliminated to reduce rot and swelling. This will be handled by channeling water downhill by use of sloped areas and leaching water in flat areas. Without the use of rubber membranes and sealants this poses a substantial challenge. Aluminum could be used in flashing the corners and even the floor, but it would have to be recycled aluminum and then removed properly after without adhering it to the fiberboard or carpet tiles.
Usability Usability is one of the top three main concerns because of the height the course needs to be in order to meet the requirements of the Walker Art Museum. The course needs to be as least four inches off the ground and have a wall of four inches surrounding the fairway. To have an element like the chute, I needed an upper level and a lower level, which puts the height of the sand raking area of the zen garden at 16 inches high. A Japanese style walking bridge was my solution to this problem allowing somewhat easier access than stepping alone (possibly a code violation too).
ConclusionThe project proposal will be astarting point for building anexample of sustainableinteractive art. The impactgenerated by the amount ofexposure of projects like these,could help a little to perpetuatethe idea of sustainability intomore than we could imagine atthis point in time. Thedevelopment of this projectwould depend on a selectionprocess done by the Walker ArtMuseum. If selected, I will start byfine-tuning any design problems,gather the proper materials, andput together a team to assemblethe course. We have two weeksin the end of May to assemblethe project, then it will openMemorial Day weekend and beopen to the public till Labor Day.