Healthcare Environment Awards 2013
Conceptual Honorable Mention
Client: Camp Southern Ground
Where: Fayetteville, Georgia
Perkins+Will’s Atlanta–based designers set out to create a camp for children with and without autism by designing playful, positive, easy-to-navigate spaces. The project is the brainchild of Grammy Award-winning musician Zac Brown, and the design of Camp Southern Ground aims to be a place where children can thrive and learn, while providing an opportunity for researchers to evaluate successes and failures, and hopefully make strides in the study of autism.
The design team envisioned an environment that fosters trust and interaction between children with typical and special needs. Spaces are designed with only non-toxic and sustainable materials,
and intended to evoke feelings of wonder, surprise, and discovery,
while accommodating a spectrum of abilities. Because each environment is designed to encourage children to overcome obstacles, the camp features a range of confidence-building activities.
The campus is laid out along intersecting axes to provide orientation, and activities loop off each axis, so that children can always find their way back to the lodging area. The camp engages with its site—500 woodland acres—and includes a 15-acre organic farm where campers can learn about healthy eating. A series of sensory gardens are linked to program elements, such as a sound garden situated next to the music building, an outdoor gallery emphasizing visual arts adjacent to the art complex, and an edible garden next to the dining hall.
The jury praised the ambitious project that aims to bring forth an exterior environment that is mindful of both the range of autism and the natural resources available on the campus. The design was hailed for its reversal of a typical “outside-in” approach by seeking to bring interior environments to the outdoors.