Cascadia Environmental Courts: Design Proposal Featured at this years Virtual Design Festival

At the first ever Virtual Design Festival, students and schools from around the world presented their visions for how architecture, and our human cultures can adapt and respond to the extraordinary circumstances facing our societies right now.

Five architecture students from the University of Oregon were chosen to present their visions of a Center for Democracy and Environmental Justice as part of a course Just City. Just Future. Inclusive Architecture and Urban Design.

“As structural inequalities, ecological degradation, and ongoing crises push people farther apart, design at all scales can be leveraged to reboot systems, repair a damaged urban context, bridge divides, and bring communities together.

The class focused on sustainable urban design at the district scale, and the architecture of civic life and systems change, and ultimately led to the exploration of what a new Democracy and Justice Center could look that bridged all of these elements. Designs ranged from a water research facility to a building dedicated to education in an under served neighborhood in Portland, OR.

For University of Oregon student Nicklaus McGuire, he chose to focus his design on the creation of a Cascadia Environmental Court.

“An environmental court serving the Cascadia bioregion, overlooking North East Portland Riverfront, and designed to meet the Living Building Challenge. The Cascadia Environmental Courts meet the needs of a Centre for Democracy and Environmental Justice while bringing together state-level judges, social services, environmental policymakers, education, and environmental advocates into one building.

Not only that, but each building would meet the highest standard of the LEED challenge, generating it’s own electricity and being carbon negative.

The building follows a regular order from which the courtrooms break away, creating an iconic moment that can be seen from the exterior of each facade. The Cascadia Environmental Courts have net-positive energy, handles 143 per cent of stormwater onsite, reuses greywater, and treats black water.”

Ultimately, the 2020 Virtual Design Festival was a huge success, receiving a million page views and 1.4 million video plays to date. The festival was organized by the digital architecture and interior magazine Dezeen as an online method for students and schools to present their work during the COVID pandemic and ran from the 15th of April to July 10th.

Being featured in the festival is a selective honor, and included members of the global design community. Participating members included Design Weeks from Design Indaba and StockholmSan Francisco and Vienna Design Weeks appeared alongside performances and exhibitions from the Serpentine Gallery, the London Festival of Architecture and New York architecture conference The World Around. All of which have been closed or cancelled due to Covid-19.

For more information, see the entire ISSU PDF by Nicklas McGuire and their team at:

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