Friday, 21 August 2015

#livebuild Summer Project


This blog post is written by Lottie Morris, the Architecture Centre's creative programme intern.


During July 2015, Shape My City undertook a live ‘hands-on’ sustainable building project, collaboratively designing and constructing a community shelter. Built from local and sustainable materials (earth, wood and clay), the shelter is located on the Asylum Seekers Allotment Project (ASAP) in St George, East Bristol and is part of celebrating Bristol’s year as European Green Capital. The shelter will be a positive addition to the Asylum Seekers Allotment Project - a warm shelter to spend time cooking and talking together and a retreat after working on the allotment in all weather conditions.

Joining forces with Engineers without Borders (EWB Bristol), University of the West of England students and tangentfield architects, this was a great opportunity to bring together volunteers, students, young people and professionals to collaboratively design and build a real-life structure.

In May, the Shape My City participants were introduced to the first #livebuild brief and learned about the inspiration behind the project - Hani  (Shape My City 2014 alumni). Hani was inspired to bring a real, sustainable building project to Bristol after seeing earth dwellings on his travels in Ethiopia, and meeting architects Sally and Lawrence from tangentfield, who went on to form a core part of the design and construction team. The Shape My City participants spent the May session designing their ideas for the shelter, which fed into the final structure.


After the initial sketches created in the Shape My City session, the design team tried to bring these ideas all together to form preliminary sketches. As with any design process, ideas were knocked back and forth as the design developed, the time factor, resources, needs of the users and the size of the site all had to be taken into account as the designs got refined. When the team started their first day on site, the design drawings continued to develop, as the team got a better sense of the site. The basic structure and ground sections were worked out, holes were to be dug and filled with brick-filled gabions, which would support the timber posts and overall structure. 

On Day One the site was cleared, the ground levelled out, wood found on site and sorted through. Day Two saw the holes dug for the brick filled wire gabions, they were to be buried around 450mm below ground and the far corner gabion was levelled, the big week of building would begin next week…......

 
Monday was a day of levelling gabions, a trickier  task than first thought - once one gabion was levelled it made it more difficult to level the others, however all six gabions were set into the ground, with the upper gabions starting to be placed by the end of the day. Tuesday saw the gabions finished, posts installed and the first roof rafters done.  







Wednesday saw the roof get underway, there were many people on site helping and offering their expertise, Brendan, a carpenter, Kareem, a UWE Architecture and Environmental Engineering student and Jo, our resident natural builder and cob expert. We were joined during the week by Shape My City participant Melvin, who undertook his work experience placement on the #livebuild project. Melvin got stuck in with the buiding work and helped to document the project.





On Thursday the straw bale walls were installed, secured with hazel spurs from on the site and one of our current Shape My City participants, Rosie, came along to help out . She and Jo started applying the undercoat of clay slip to the straw bales.






Friday was a busy day on site; the team were joined by  young people from Tomorrow’s People as part of Avon Wildlife Trust’s programme. They helped mix up the clay render – this is done with your feet and was a fun and squelchy process! Another Shape My City participant Matthew was on site for the day and got stuck into making clay render and plastering the cob onto the strawbale wall. Our Tomorrow’s People volunteers also helped apply the cob base coat to the walls - everyone did a great job! After the base layer came the plaster layer of cob, to fully seal the straw bales. 





The roof was worked and brackets and joints were added to strengthen the structure. It was a long and busy day, but the cob was done and the sheets of OSB were fixed to the roof, the structure was almost complete! There were a few parts that would still needed refining (a final top coat of clay render to be done by the allotment project users) but the #livebuild team were extremely proud (and just a little tired!) to have built the structure in such a short amount of time, it looked great and was a big achievement.






Ten days later, the #livebuild celebration event was upon us. Everyone invovled in the project was invited .The shelter was decked with fairy lights and bunting, the fire was lit, and a spread of delicious food from Surplus Supper Club was laid out. It was a rainy summer’s evening, but it didn’t dampen spirits, the weather almost seemed fitting for the launch event, as everyone gathered into the shelter to shelter from the rain (demonstrating the need for the project!). 



 
Complete with the fire, the space was very cosy and everyone enjoyed eating food and talking about the shelter, how the week went and ambitions for the future of the shelter. Amy (Architecture Centre) started the thank you - thanking Sally and Lawrence from tangentfield/UWE, all the keen volunteers, Shape My City young people, building experts, funders, Avon Wildlife Trust’s Tomorrow’s People, Dee the Allotment site-rep, Emmy and Asylum Seekers Allotment Project for their collaboration and Hani, who had the initial idea and showed so much enthusiasm and commitment to the project. 


Hani also said a few words, thanking everyone for their hard work and Amy who was a great project coordinator. Sally also thanked all and officially presented the building 'hand-over' folder to the Asylum Seekers Allotment Project.

 
The green ribbon was then cut by Hani and Emmy and the #livebuild shelter was officially launched!
Guests, including local Councilor Sue Milestone, were encouraged to plant chamomile plants around the gabions to make their own contribution to the shelter. The team were also interviewed about the #livebuild project for a video documenting the process, including time lapse footage of the whole build week. 



The film will be part of the #livebuild project exhibition on display in the Architecture Centre gallery from 23 September - 25 October. 

Reflecting on the project Hani said:
'Seeing the finished structure came with a great sense of achievement, and an equally great sense of relief. The impact that this project will have on the local community will hopefully be a lasting one. Being involved in this project has been an invaluable experience for me from, conception to completion, and I am so happy and proud to have been involved in realising a shared vision which helps improve the lives of members of the community'.
 
Seeing the finished structure came with a great sense of achievement, and an equally great sense of relief. The impact that this project will have on the local community will hopefully be a lasting one. Being involved in this project has been an invaluable experience for me from, conception to completion, and I am so happy and proud to have been involved in realising a shared vision which helps improve the lives of members of the community.'  - See more at: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/news/arts-council-news/cultural-youth-programme-bristol-builds-sustainabl/#sthash.JEBTwDOd.dpuf
Seeing the finished structure came with a great sense of achievement, and an equally great sense of relief. The impact that this project will have on the local community will hopefully be a lasting one. Being involved in this project has been an invaluable experience for me from, conception to completion, and I am so happy and proud to have been involved in realising a shared vision which helps improve the lives of members of the community.'  - See more at: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/news/arts-council-news/cultural-youth-programme-bristol-builds-sustainabl/#sthash.JEBTwDOd.dpuf


'The building is absolutely amazing. We were up in the garden all day in the rain today and it was just perfect to have a real shelter to be warm in. We all sat round together and it felt so good'.  
Emmy, the Asylum Seeker Allotment Project co-ordinator.

A huge well done and thank you to everyone for all their involvement in the project, and everyone for attending our rainy, celebration event! The shelter looks brilliant and everyone should be very proud, it will be of great use to the Asylum Seekers Allotment Project.

The Shape My City #livebuild was made possible by the kind support of:
Big Lottery Awards for All, Quartet Express Fund, University of the West of England, Ibstock Brick, Elmtree Landscaping and all our wonderful project volunteers - thank you.

Check out the #livebuild blog to read more about the project.

Watch the film about #livebuild here.

#livebuild    #shapemycity

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