Project Summary

The Southside Permaculture Park Calitheatre is an original design that attempts to integrate various lifestyles and activities into one structure. Its design is inspired by one of the core principles of permaculture: Every Element Serves Multiple Functions. The name of the project can be divided into two parts. The root “cali” refers to the calisthenic (using only body weight) workout part of the design, and “theatre” refers to how it also can be used for performances and lectures. In addition to these two main functions, the Calitheatre will also act as a garden swale by directing and storing water for surrounding garden beds, as well as a trellis for vining plants (grapes, kiwis, ivy etc.) to grow on. The Calitheatre is one of the next big projects in developing the land at the Southside Permaculture Park.

3D model of the Calitheatre. The angled rooftop faces south.

The Southside Permaculture Park Calitheatre will have a diversity of uses. Exercise, education, entertainment, gardening, and food production are integrated into one space so that people with varied interests can congregate together to create a stronger community in the local area. The park will serve as a hub for the community to communicate about permaculture. The project is distinctive because the design of the Calitheatre, as part of the Permaculture Park, uses systems thinking as opposed to isolated designing. The varied functions of the Calitheatre help it work in harmony with the rest of the park. It furthers the visions of the Park while also addressing the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods for good recreational spaces.

The Calitheatre will include monkey bars, pull-up bars (varying heights), parallel bars, swing bars, a Swedish ladder, and declined sit-up benches. It will be covered by a pergola-style roof that will be trained with vines, with a removable tarp just below the roof for weather-proofing outdoor events. In the back, a chalk board will assist in lectures and other demonstrations, for planning workouts, or just to express yourself. It will be open in the center to facilitate lectures or live performances, and will face a flat area for audience standing or seating.

Two other views of the Calitheatre small-scale model.

Many modern structures have been built without regard for the impact that it will have on rain water and the hydrological flow in the area. Buildings with huge footprints and giant, impenetrable parking lots prevent storm water from absorbing into the soil and cause massive flooding, soil loss due to erosion, and damage to municipal sewer systems. The Calitheatre is designed to actively manage the water that falls upon it and use it in garden beds, turning what others consider a liability into an asset. 

Swales on the south (uphill) end catch the water that flows down the hill, as well as runoff from the tarp (if in place). The sawles then overflow into a french drain system that runs underneath the Calitheatre main area, where it is directed around the flat land designated for audiences and through a series of rain gardens that use plants to pull up that rain water and hold the soil together. Anything that makes it through the rain gardens than flows into another series of swales. These swales and rain gardens are built along the edge, or margin, as informed by the principles of permaculture. The depth of the swales and rain gardens will be such that the volume of water held can accomodate for average rainfall, plus a safety factor. This will probably end up being around 50-75 cubic feet of water storage capacity.

Schematic of the hydrological flow through and around the Calithatre.

This project has long-term value because once it is built, it will continue to provide its benefits with minimal maintenance. Both the Calitheatre and the integrated permaculture garden exemplify sustainability. Once erected, the Calitheatre can remain in place without any additional funding. In theory, its value will increase with the eventual shade from the ivy plants grown up and over the trellis. Although any type of agricultural work requires upkeep, there will be little to be done after completion since the perennial plants are carefully selected to maintain symbiotic relationships that keep them healthy and productive year after year. The Calitheatre will serve as a central aspect of the Permaculture Park over its long lifespan, and will help maintain a steady stream of visitors to the location.

Funding for the Calitheatre has already been secured by out partners in the bLUprint foundation and construction is scheduled to begin in April 2019 and finish by September 2019.