JENNINGS + SANTA-RITA
CASA Playhouse, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Date : 2009
Walter Jennings and Lori Yazwinski Santa-R donated the design of the entire playhouse including drawings and details. Neal Heffner Construction donated materials and labor for the construction. The project was auctioned off to help raise money for CASA. This team worked together to market and give tours of the structure during the auction.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) provides advocates for children in the court system. CASA describes their role as the following “CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home. They stay with each case until it is closed, and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence—the one adult who cares only for them.”
The playhouse uses stained cypress wood for the core. The roof is cedar shake. An elevated loft area provides views as well as a stage for children’s performances. A more private hideaway is located under the loft. This concealed space has a finely fenestrated wall to allow the children to peek out of the structure. The playhouse was built on a wheeled platform to allow it to move from house to house as needed. The large cantilevered roof shields the structure and its inhabitants from both rain and sun while allowing breezes to pass. While the program called for a “playhouse” the design team wanted to create a structure that would allow the children to use the structure as they see fit and be a canvas for creativity, not merely a “house.”