Sod couch outside of Hunt Hall. (Tiffany Dobbyn)
Sod couch outside of Hunt Hall. (Tiffany Dobbyn)

A New Place to Relax on UC Davis Campus

Landscape architecture student designs ‘sod couch’ outside Hunt Hall

Take a seat and relax on the new addition to the UC Davis campus – a sod couch. The outdoor seating is located near the main entrance to Hunt Hall, not far from the Memorial Union (MU) and the Unitrans bus terminal. As the name implies, it’s a couch made of soil and grass sod. The unique fixture is the product of landscape architecture students who completed the Design and Build course last fall, which was led by instructors Haven Kiers and Gabino Marquez.

The students were tasked with designing a creation that could be built within the triangular patch of grass outside the building. In years past, students have designed and built numerous features in the courtyard at Hunt Hall, including a pergola and covered bike parking. Kiers wanted to change things up for this new installment.

“I came in with the idea of a sod couch,” Kiers said. “The spot right in front of Hunt Hall seemed like the perfect spot for something like that. The courtyard is more of a quiet space. The front of the building doesn’t get used very much, and it’s such an amazing space across from the MU. We wanted it to be a statement for the landscape architecture program.”

Everyone in the class submitted a design and then they all voted for their favorite. The winning design was created by Emma Ginnell, a junior majoring in landscape architecture. She said she observed how the space was used before drawing up her plans and incorporated elements to her design that appeal to different types of passersby.

“I noticed how people cut through the grassy areas of Hunt Hall to and from the bus station as a shortcut, and so I wanted to keep an element of accessibility to the design by keeping a clear pathway through the space and not blocking anything off,” Ginnell said. “The design creates an opportunity to either sit facing Hunt Hall or the road, catering to both extroverted and introverted relaxers."

Once the design was chosen, students went to work building the couch and a complementary armchair. They molded clay soil, which was transported over to the site from a clean fill pit at the Putah Creek Reserve and covered it with sod that was donated by local business, Delta Bluegrass Company. Ginnell said the building process was a fun and rewarding experience.

“Working together with all of my peers on the couch was an experience that I don’t think most college students get to have,” Ginnell said. “We got a lot closer during the process as a class since we were working together for several hours during the week in sun, wind and rain, and when the couch was finished it felt like a big group accomplishment.”

The sod couch is open for everyone to use. Kiers and Ginnell both said they hope it becomes a relaxing spot for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

“Seeing people spending time in a space I designed and helped build with my peers is exciting,” Ginnell said. “The couch has also proven to be a great conversation starter, and it adds a unique element to the UC Davis campus. I hope we can implement more sod couches around campus in the future.”



Media Resources

A.Haven Kiers, Department of Human Ecology,

Emma Ginnell, Landscape Architecture,

Tiffany Dobbyn, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,

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