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Sustainable Shade Structures

Tirrases, Curridabat, San José Province, Costa Rica

Sustainable Shade Structures represents a pivotal aspect of a research initiative focused on understanding the intricate relationship between the extreme heat and vulnerable communities, and how to create actionable steps to offset climate injustice in at-risk neighborhoods. One of the locations where this research was applied was in the Costa Rican city of Curridabat, which has been suffering the consequences of climate change for years.

Through conversations with a diverse group of stakeholders, including residents, community organizations, and city officials, the team identified safety, accessibility, and a focus on youth as key design priorities. Further engagement sessions with local children from Tirrases contributed to the creation of a comprehensive map identifying the most frequently utilized public spaces in the district. Despite their significance as gathering spots, these spaces are currently underutilized due to issues such as inadequate shading, safety concerns, and limited accessibility.

Gensler and community stakeholders co-designed a shade structure prototype, which was deployed in three locations within Curridabat as of March 2023. The structure is modular, allowing it to adapt to each site. It has simple assembly instructions, allowing it to be deployed quickly, and is constructed with sustainably sourced local materials, including bamboo, rope, and canvas. The team will continue to gather data and evaluate the outcomes over a specified period to iterate on the design and refine our best practices for participatory design.