Archive for ‘Designs’

January 21, 2021

We have living room furniture!

A few days ago the first group of lounge chairs that I designed arrived! It was a long wait because the carpenter had a hard time following drawings and was busy with too much work from other people. The wood does not have its final finish yet and so I am going to wait to write a more detailed post. We want to finish them with linseed oil from Uganda (the only option available here is varnish) and so it will be some time yet before they are complete. I can’t help but share one picture because it feels so good to have comfortable places to sit in our living room after a year of living in this apartment. We are now just waiting for a corner couch that will complete the ensemble. When it comes we will move the rocking chair to Moses’ room.

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October 8, 2020

Furniture 1: Crib

In the later part of my pregnancy and after having Moses I have been working on a project to design furniture for our apartment. There are very nice woods available here and yet most quality furniture is imported and far too expensive. Our first project was to make a crib for Moses as he is quickly growing out of the cardboard crib that I made for him at 4 months old. It was a challenge to get the carpenter to follow the drawings and things ended up a bit different, but the end result still achieves the look I was going for and is solidly built. We are looking forward to getting some tools and making furniture ourselves so that we can have more control over the design and quality. That said, the carpenter did very well with the few tools that are available to him. I am looking forward to posting more furniture to come as they are made!

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August 7, 2020

Paint Structure

Last month I designed an open-air steel structure where Othy was planning to produce paint for his business. The objectives were to cover the small triangular area completely, allow for sunlight and air to enter, allow for efficient storm-water run-off, and have the flexibility to be disassembled and remounted elsewhere if needed. Unfortunately it is looking like it won’t get built because Othy has found a more flexible space for future growth. I am still happy to have gained some more knowledge of costs and availability of steel in Kinshasa. It also gave me more practice working with Blender, an amazing open source modelling and rendering tool that I am appreciating more by the day.

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Existing site condition

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July 18, 2020

Cardboard Crib

One challenge about having a baby in Congo is that there isn’t a market for used stuff. I think that if we were in Canada we would have many used baby things thrown our way as friends and relatives declutter their homes post-having children. Or else we could look for used stuff on Craigslist, Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. When looking at new cribs we found that the options are either cheaply made or super expensive (we need a middle ground option here like IKEA!). We chose a third option of designing a wood crib to get made, but because of the pandemic we had to post-pone our plans. But we have a growing baby that we can’t hit the pause button on and so I had the idea to design a temporary cardboard crib. I thought that even after he is done with it, we can use it as a play item.

The design uses a strategy of cuts and folds so that one single piece of cardboard can form one side of the crib with very little waste. Then I added internal reinforcing with layered cardboard on the inside of all of the junction points. I used the cardboard we had leftover from our freezer purchase, but only had enough for three sides. To still make it work we have the crib pushed up against the headboard of the bed. It will serve until Moses is able to pull himself to standing. I am very happy with the results! One change I would make is to add additional layers of cardboard on the inside of the top and bottom rung for additional lateral support. It took me a few weeks to make because I had to cut and score everything by hand (and I am a busy mom with many other things to do!), but if drafted in CAD the design could be laser cut in a matter of minutes.

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Final result!

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Sketch of flat sheet with cuts and scores (solid vs dotted lines)

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Card mock-up

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August 18, 2019

Plastic Nave

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A few months back I submitted an entry to an architectural competition hosted by Young Architecture Competitions (YAC) called Plastic Monument. It is a proposal for a monument meant to embody the problems that plastic waste is having on our oceans and planet. The project brief as well as the selected winners can be found on the YAC website.

I thought I had a chance at winning, but my entry was not selected. I think once again I was probably too ambitious. The winners were either meshes filled with plastic waste to make a desired shape, or else a representation of how plastic is filling our oceans or how many plastic bottles are produced each minute. My project was a nave constructed using a plastic bottle space frame detail that I developed. The bottles are easy to assemble and disassemble making it easy to involve the community and recycle the bottles afterwards. The nave is a an open space of awe and light and side aisles host a photography exhibition about plastic and our planet. The space frame structure is paired with a scaffold that holds a clear modular container that is suspended above the nave and collects the plastic waste collected during the monument’s tour. The container is designed to be lowered and new wall extension pieces added so that it can hold more over time. It can even fill up so much that the whole nave is full and the visitors can only walk through the side aisles.

I think that my proposal is more impactful than others as it would involve the community in the collection of bottles and construction of the nave, impacting their perspectives and using local plastic that may otherwise end up in a landfill. Secondly, a monument that changes physically and takes away the light and beauty of the original construction has more meaning to visitors than a metaphorical sculpture. And finally, the space frame detail, if developed further, could become a construction detail used to make improvements to precarious housing, for temporary constructions like pavilions during festivals, or for refugee housing, a construction that has practical uses in many parts of the world where there is no infrastructure for plastic waste. Even though this competition has ended, I am super excited to develop this prototype further on my own. In a few months Othy and I will be moving to Kinshasa where I hope to collect more used bottles and build a larger prototype.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this competition proposal and the prototype. Feel free to leave comments below! Check out lifesectionstudio.com for more of my design work.

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July 16, 2019

Billow

Title: Billow

Date: June, 2019

Medium: Folded paper on card

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Random first placement of pieces

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Groomed to form a wave

 

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May 22, 2018

Embroidery

Over the last few years I have begun experimenting with embroidery as an artistic medium.  I like how it reduces expression to lines and colour. The work is inspired by my Grandma who would often do embroidery on the cards she would give to friends and family on special occasions. The last time I did embroidery was for a set of Christmas cards. This time I made the two cards below as a gift for Philip and Rolf and they depict views from the 2 Fraser adaptive reuse project that I worked on for almost two years.

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April 14, 2018

Queen West SCS

This past year I had the opportunity to work on a small project with Philip Beesley and Rolf Seifert called the Queen West Supervised Consumption Site (SCS). Several SCS have opened up in major cities across the country to reduce the impacts of substance use on individuals and communities. Health Canada has a helpful website that explains the reasons, goals, and how the sites work. The project was a good opportunity for me because it was small and I was able to do everything for the project under the supervision of my boss including the bidding and negotiation process and contract administration. I learned a whole lot from working on this project, am proud at how it turned out, and am excited for the impact it will have! Photos are the property of Philip Beesley Architect Inc. and Rolf Seifert Architect. The photographer is Alex Willms.

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April 1, 2017

When the Vernacular Fails

I recently contributed an article to the Site Magazine’s issue 36: Vernaculars. The article is called When the Vernacular Fails and describes the disaster response work I did with EMI in Nepal a few months after the 2015 earthquake. The work relates to the idea of the vernacular because we were outsiders working in a foreign context and had to listen and work with locals and also apply our outside expertise. In the development of a training manual for the rebuilding of more seismic resistant homes, we opted for a hybrid solution that incorporated a few modern construction techniques where needed with the traditional methods that we discovered were very common in the region.

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October 1, 2016

Icelandic Trekking Cabins

In July and August my colleague Joe and I prepared a design for a trekking cabin in Iceland that we submitted to a competition put on by Beebreeders. The design proposes a truncated pyramidal form that is lifted off the ground so as to stand lightly on the diverse and fragile landscapes that can be found in Iceland. The form is then carved away to create openings that frame the sky and the landscape. Cabins are clustered together with a canopy between them to frame the view of the uninterrupted horizons and form an exterior sheltered area where groups can informally gather. The cabin is designed in prefabricated pieces that can be easily assembled on each site, can function off grid, and is well insulated to protect against the elements.  On the inside there is a storage and mechanical space in the first half level, a small kitchenette and washroom one story up, and bunk beds that are staggered up the sloping walls to make the space as dense as possible. At the scale of a whole trail, the cabins can be clad in materials that compliment the landscape, and the cabins can serve as beacons for the purpose of way-finding at night or in bad weather.

It was a fun project to work on because it had to be functional and iconic at the same time, and I also enjoyed learning about the many different types of terrain that Iceland has. Now I definitely want to travel there at some point! Although we did not place in the competition, we are still very proud of what we came up with. I welcome any feedback you may have about the design!

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