COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT
CENTER FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION & PHYSICAL THERAPY
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: This was a unique opportunity to be involved in an actual international project with a humanitarian mission. The Department of Physical Therapy at Marymount had in prior years assisted in setting up physical therapy centers in underserved communities. For this project, I and Hana Altourk, also a Marymount interior design graduate student, worked alongside the physical therapy students to enhance the aesthetic and functional attributes of the center.
PROJECT SCOPE: An 890 square foot single family home in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica serves as a center of special education and physical therapy for Asociación Jireh. The primary goal of the project was to provide this non-profit organization with a more functional space with additional furnishings and equipment.
PROGRAMMING: Intensive research of the organization and Costa Rican culture included Skype interviews with Doña Jennifer, the organization's founder and leader, and an interview with a native Costa Rican physician living in northern Virginia. Evidence-based design research was performed to understand and develop design criteria for physical therapy and special education centers. We were provided a hand sketch of the building and photographs of the interior.
SCHEMATICS & DESIGN DEVELOPMENT: The major focus was to optimize space utilization while ensuring the needs of the patients and staff were met. With a fixed floor plan with limited square footage, it was essential for areas to have multiple uses. Examples of solutions are 1) an open area with floor mats in the sala, or main room, suitable for Wi-Fit therapy or as a toddler play area and 2) grouped desks in the other half of the sala could be rearranged for the staff to use as a meeting or dining table. All of the furniture was chosen from Marymount surplus and shipped to Costa Rica. The budget was extremely limited, essentially providing for paint and inexpensive creative options such as the milk crate storage seat shown below.