Vernon Elementary School Sustainable Outdoor Classroom


The roof is split into two sections, the south facing plane becoming a green roof with planted drought resistant succulents, while the north roof is metal to harvest rainwater.

We partnered with the PTA at Vernon Elementary school to develop a plan for the entire school campus and identify projects that we can implement over time. The first project in this master plan was a Sustainable Outdoor Classroom structure that compliments their existing community garden. The structure’s program is to offer a sheltered space for a class of 30 students to learn about science and nature. Further, the design is meant to act as a learning tool, visualizing the architectural and structural elements, as well as tectonics so students can learn from the construction of the structure itself.

The roof form both respects the historical agricultural roots of the Willamette Valley, while offering a contemporary twist that creates a dynamic form. The split roof allows sun to penetrate deep into the building while still protecting it from the rain. Structural connections are celebrated, visualizing the details that make the building stand up. Materials were chosen for their durability, affordability as well as local sourcing. A rainwater collection system will be incorporated into the structure, with the water used to irrigate the adjoining garden beds. Food from the community garden is harvested by the students and used in the cafeteria.

The project schedule aims for the project to be completed by the next school year, starting in September 2015. The goal is to have community involvement in the construction process over the summer.

Click here to see our Vernon Elementary School Sports Shelter design:

Click here to see an article on this project covered by the Daily Journal of Commerce:

Click here to see another outdoor shelter we designed for the Vestal School:


Carlos Saca - Project Designer
Lucas Gray - Project Designer
Sam Sudy - Project Designer
Nick Mira - Project Architect

Catena Engineering
Vernon PTA


Portland, Oregon
Vernon Neighborhood