Vrt Užitka (Garden of Delight)

Nicky Bloom, Nathania Martinez (University Of Florida), Jean Ni, Tara Van Corbach

Vrt UŽitka addresses the need for stimulating, accessible open gathering and play space for a large intersection of underserved people in the city of Rijeka, Croatia. Materials and adjacencies were carefully chosen to address the communal use of space by visually impaired individuals, elderly citizens with disabilities, physical therapy patients, dormitory staff, teachers, and kindergarten through university-aged students.

The central plaza features a sweeping glass awning that faces an interactive water feature. Physical therapy elements, art walls, and handicap- accessible swings are built into the protective shade structure. Beyond the plaza, the nature play area consists of a scattering of reclaimed logs, arranged into an obstacle course to be explored by school- age children and teenagers.

In addition to providing seasonal color, variable- height planters at the entrance invite visitors to taste, smell, and feel the herbs and flowers that ll this sensory area. Perennial medicinal herbs provide residents with the flexibility to harvest from the garden throughout the year.

This design-build project began with several teams who generated schematic designs tailored to community needs based on a series of participatory discussions. Team concepts were then synthesized to create a final master plan, followed by a 7-week construction period.