BP2010 is nominated for AJ Small Projects awards!

Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this fantatsic project!

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The Grand Opening

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The proud team finished off the final details in time for the opening in the afternoon which welcomed Eden personel and other interested parties to enjoy the space, relax in our ‘lazy chairs’ constructed from car tyres and learn more about the building plot project.

Jan Korbes, our ‘creative director’ from REFUNC guided the design process and who has years of experience working and innovating with used car tyres showed genuine excitement for the result which he suggested had pushed the use of car tyres as a roof cladding to a new level. Praise indeed!

A huge thanks to Awards for All for making this possible and to all the team who have worked so hard over the last 2 weeks to make this such a fantastic workshop.

ASF-UK and Eden will now reflect on the learning process and skills gained by participants with the intention of formulating an accreditable course which deals with the issues of construction with waste materials. The course will be targeted at low skilled individuals in order to new create new ‘green collar’ job opportunities and skills within the reuse sector.

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Day 7: Nearing completion

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The team have worked hard to get the shelter completed ahead of the opening tomorrow.

The finishing touches are being put to the roof – the fringe is being tidied and the guttering installed. Some checks have been made to the seals using a pressure hose as alas the beautiful sunshine has been fantastic in all but allowing us to see how the roof will perform under typical Cornish summer weather!

There will be some finishing touches required tomorrow morning but you can feel the excitement in the team as we near completion…

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Day 6: Endless tyres…

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With a full team and another day of glorious sunshine the team knuckled down to the task at hand – sourcing over 80 car tyres and preparing, cutting and grinding ready for fixing onto the roof, the final bay of rafters and cross-bracing to install and a haircut to attend to.

The roof has now really begun to take shape and a sense of enclosure can be felt inside. Ed and Boris, our chief car tyre tile layers began to shape the over hangs at the front and rear, cutting a fringe which corresponded to the angular frame.

Kyle, Ali, John and Andy all put in some work on notching and fixing the final bay of rafters which fan out according to the opposing trusses which has a beautiful rhythm and flow.

Junga and Mel, with the guidance of our superb carpenter Rufus began to resolve the question of how to make a connection between the existing ‘Alchemy’ building (presently our office and workshop, but otherwise a visitor centre) with the new intervention. A series of steps will be built to join the two levels with the possibility of some other additional elements.

The whole group played their part in processing the tyres ready for the roof cladding which was quite a slog and occupied most of the team for much of the day.

Things are looking good for the final couple of days and spirits remain high. There is a good sense of determination to finish and reach a high level of detailing before the opening on Thursday.

Tomorrow will be another tough day –80 more tyres were picked up at the end of the day and so the morning will be another session of cutting, prepping and laying the spectacular fanning roof which will push the material to its extremes.

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Day 5: Workshop two begins

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The second workshop started in great fashion with the arrival of three new volunteers and one returnee who had missed the Saturday which brought our numbers up to 13.

We were greeted on site with beautiful weather which only boosted morale and smiles all-round.

Shortly after work commenced the engineer made his scheduled visit to input on the design of the structure; helping to identify any weaknesses and possible remedies. There was some apprehension amongst the group as the design is far from orthodox(!) However, our young and enthusiastic specialists embraced the approached and worked hard to ensure strength was added where needed without compromising the design intentions.

There was a good discussion between all parties – volunteers, carpenter, building specialists and the engineer which led to a fluid and dynamic development of remaining joints and details. The result was a stronger structure which would resist the most extreme wind loading whilst simultaneously adding to the aesthetic.

The schedule was not pushed too much today to allow the new recruits to get into the swing of things. We made good progress but there is clearly a lot to do in the remaining 3 days so I’m sure the pressure will be felt first thing tomorrow and we’ll have to knuckle down from hereon to get everything finished in time for the grand opening on Thursday evening!

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Day Off: reflect, unwind, plot…

A chance to look back at what has been achieved over the last week, how the process has unfolded and how best to make the most of the second week of workshops. There is much to plan for coming into the second week.

A big thanks to everyone who has worked so hard this week. The whole team should be really proud of the way we have pulled together and after a good days rest, and the addition of some new participants for the second week we hope to carry the momentum forward and have a fantastic structure completed in four days time with some great learning outcomes for the students…

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Day 4: Full steam ahead

On the last day of the first workshop all the team members had by now learnt a great deal about the timber joinery techniques being used and methods for preparing the tyres so that we were able to keep a good momentum and make another jump forward on the structure.

In addition a team set to making the most of the left-over car tyre sides to spread a sense of the structure and our project about Eden. The sides of the adjacent visitor centre, Alchemy, were clad and further afield on gates, fences and signs the tyres have been placed on the approach to the site to give visitors a suggestion of what is to come.

By the end of play three bays had been erected and the first two had been fully cross-braced. Some additional supports were also put into the earlier structure ahead of the engineer’s first visit to site on Monday.

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Day 3: Getting into the swing

The frame began to take shape and a production line developed for cutting and finishing the car tyre strips for the roof.

Additional materials were sourced including fixings, car tyres and waste timber from a local demolition company. In order to keep costs low very little of the timber was paid for but rather ‘scavenged’ from a giant waste timber mound on the site of the local demolition company DRS which would otherwise have been chipped up and shipped away.

Discussions began with the engineer via email to ensure the very unorthodox design approach would still result in a safe and secure structure which was taking into account appropriate wind loading requirements and demonstrating sufficiently strong cross-bracing and jointing techniques.

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Day 2: Sketching in wood

The team, lead by facilitators from the organisation REFUNC were becoming accustomed to a new way of designing and working. Pens, pencils and paper were left behind in favour of hands on testing with each material. The design soon began to evolve as timber members were held in position to outline a frame and tyres laid out to determine space and enclosure.

A definitive way forward began to materialise and as a result the team split into smaller groups specialising in different tasks lead by our resource persons; Jan and Boris of REUNC, Rufus Maurice, an exceptional local carpenter and Brett Jackson a local rammed earth specialist.

Using the pod constructed in 2009 as a starting point for both structure and aesthetic the design began to develop rapidly and organically. Part of the pod was deconstructed to create a blank canvas for testing new types of cladding using polycarbonate, car tyres and glass bottles with a lime mortar. By using the existing structure it allowed us to short-cut the testing process – saving time on building new frames and structures unnecessarily. Additional covering was also built into the eaves to improve the water-tightness of the existing structure and make it more conducive to work and inhabitation year-round.

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Day 1: Workshop 1 begins

The weather wasn’t too kind to us on the first stay of the workshop, but the team stayed positive and smiled through soggy feet.

We started off with introductions – to everyone in the team, ASF-UK, and the Building Plot. Andy led the briefing, and explained where the project has come from, and where we hope that it is going.

The Building Plot developed as an idea a couple of years ago – from a combination of growing interests and concerns within ASF-UK and a relationship with the Eden Project in Cornwall. We felt frustrated by the waste within the construction industry, and were interested in how to localise design and construction, and address the inefficiencies in the process. The Eden Project gave us a piece of land to test ideas. A period of research and development followed looked at the feasibility of creating a social enterprise prototyping building components from waste materials, and finding markets for the components and ideas. A harvest map was used to track waste streams and locations within a 50 miles radius of the site. From this a small workshop pod was built in 2009 using materials from a small selection of the suppliers identified.

These two 4-day workshops are about skills training, testing materials, fun, and possibly a built intervention. As a group the first question that came up was ‘what is the vision?’ This generated a discussion which essentially became a brief.

We discussed the brief for the site, the materials available and desired, and what initial ideas that people were thinking about. We also started to talk about the skills available in the group, from timber carpentry to the creative re-use of car tyres and green technology. Despite the rain it seemed a good idea to start testing ideas on site, to really understand the space and the context. One team hooked up a canopy so that work could continue despite the rain, and the rest of the team looked at the materials we had on site, and how to start to develop connections.

After lunch and a brief discussion, a small team were shown how to deconstruct a tyre to get a strip of rubber. The team became pretty good at it, working up a sweat from the energy involved and showing new people how to get started. Another group looked at how to integrate the existing workshop pod into the design, and a few of us went to collect timber and more tools.

By 5pm we thought everyone had done a good days work and so we started to pack up and most people spent a few hours exploring Eden before coming back to a soggy campsite!

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