From building scrap to street furniture
Ryan McNutt - June 4, 2012
It may look like scrap to you, but Dalhousie architecture students are used to seeing things a bit differently.
“We wanted to drive home the idea that it’s not really 'scrap,'” says Greg Whistance-Smith, a masters student in architecture, pointing at the piles of wood being assembled behind Sexton Campus’ Medjuck Building.
“You can make gorgeous material out of it if you’re creative.”
On May 19, the Architecture Students Society organized a street furniture competition on Sexton Campus. Ten teams, each with a handful of students, were given abandoned wood and materials to work with: some from the new Halifax Public Library site, some from Dalhousie Facilities Management. Their task: design and build an original piece of furniture in seven hours.
The competition was inspired by a similar event by Edmonton’s M.A.D.E. (Media, Art, Design Exposed), an organization co-founded by Dal alumnus Shafraaz Kaba. That competition has been running for 11 years, but Mr. Whistance-Smith says that the Halifax event was the first time that it’s been attempted outside of Edmonton.
“The students use mostly hand tools,” explains Daniel Toumine, a fourth-year architecture undergrad who planned the event with Mr. Whistance-Smith. “We have a carpenter here who is doing major cuts, but mostly it’s by hand.”
A win sealed with a kiss
Some of the projects included bar furniture, rocking chairs and tables – all with colourful, vibrant shades of wood, based on what was available.
The winning project, named “The Kissing Chair,” was the work of students Sara Jellicoe, Renaude Laberge-Boisjoli, Hannah Brash, Madelaine Merkel and Kathryn Townsend.
“We were inspired by the roughness and colour of the scrap wood,” explains Ms. Brash. “We also had an old skid that we were interested into turning into a backrest of a chair. Instead of designing a traditional loveseat-like bench, we decided to make the users face each other to create a more intimate experience: for conversing, hugging and, sure, even kissing!”
She says that the competition challenged her and her team to refine their design based on the pieces available – the sort of ingenuity and creativity that organizers were hoping for.
“You really have to work as a team,” says Mr. Toumine, to which Mr. Whistance-Smith quickly adds, “And this architecture school has a culture of that. So it really fits in.”
The organizers are hoping to make the competition an annual event.