Day 1: Bamboo Pod 3 Prototype build at Mr Box, Ningbo.
29 June 2021
The day started with the participants arriving from various parts of the city to participate in this extracurricular, unofficial project. Nancy and Joy- two preliminary year architecture students from the University of Nottingham- travelled with Matt (Academic English teacher at University of Nottingham Ningbo China) and Mia (part time lecturer in both universities, Ningbo University and Nottingham) and we met up with Francy, Patricia, and Romance (Ningbo University architecture students, in year 4) at Xin Yi Yuan tea house. The first order of business was to collect the bamboo from the new camping shop at Black Box café, who had kindly stored it since it was delivered early that morning.
The bamboo pod design was part of Digital Architecture 2021 module in Ningbo University for Year 4 architecture students, it is developed and facilitated by Dr. Mia Tedjosaputro. The parametric design was generated by Group 1 as part of their Assignment 1 group submission, using Rhino 3D and Grasshopper. The team members are: Romance, Patricia and Houda. Due to the fact that most architecture students from NBU are still abroad due to the pandemic, only a handful number of students are in Ningbo and some of them joined this workshop.
After brief introductions, including the café’s resident friendly cat, the 1:25 scale model making began. The students were spilt into two groups with a nice mix of Ningbo Uni and Nottingham students, so there was great collaboration between the two universities from the outset.
The students worked well to overcome the minor problems that inevitably appear during any construction project and overall this was a very valuable learning experience. This whole exercise is a prelude to a full-scale build of the structure in September. We only explore the main structural system which comprises of 16 hoops, testing out before we build the full scale of bamboo structure.
After lunch we started to build the 1:2 scale prototype. We had to deal with what appear to be a quite disastrous material sourcing. The 60 pieces of bamboo battens we requested was 50mm, and what came was 5mm wide. Structural system is affected, but we have to adapt and improvise. Quite a number of tools and materials are no longer necessary as they were prepared for the correct width.
Mr Box was incredibly accommodating for this project. Ningbo city itself is a great hive of creativity, and academic and artistic projects are really encouraged here. It is truly gratifying to be able to arrange a space for a project of this scale so easily, and to be so well supported throughout the whole project. It is immeasurably valuable for students to be able to have this kind of hands-on building experience, and for artists to have space to express themselves in a space where they will get public exposure, so the general public of Ningbo can also benefit. Here are a glimpse of Mr Box area:
Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to Mr Box, and to the Black Box café and Xin Yi Xuan tea house for being so flexible and making this whole rich experience possible. It was particularly valued by the Ningbo University students, as morale is a bit low at the moment- many of their cohort are in their home countries, unable to return to China due to Covid restrictions, and those who are here- the ones who have called Ningbo their home for the past four years- are few in number and studying online. This hands-on, face to face, practical extracurricular project was especially precious to them, so again- many thanks to Mr Box for facilitating this!
On another note, we had a couple of major catastrophes with materials, which goes a long way towards our future planning. Quite an intriguing exercise on prototyping stage, as there is no pressure to get the pod 100% up and perfect. Mistakes are expected, shall we say. Especially with a more manageable scale, 1:2. Day 2 tomorrow, bring it on!
Our keen makers: Romance, Patricia, Francy, Serena, Nancy (Jianan Wang) and Joy (Qiaoyi Zeng)
Facilitators: Dr. Mia Tedjosaputro and Matt Wallwork
Thank you also goes to Neal (Fan Zeran), Wang Yin, Chenchu and Mr Box for making it possible.