rehamping participatory design in action
Fostering environmental sustainability requires a broad, inclusive understanding of what comprises a particular environment. Environments are both physical and social, yet a more conventional understanding of sustainability focuses merely on the physical. Sustainable design intervention must first begin as an inclusive, social act. Social interactions and actions can transform, create, and activate space. Physical, spatial intervention that is a manifestation of a social process can produce a thriving, dynamic environment because its users have the opportunity to realize they are active creators and stewards of that space, not solely users. The more oneâ€™s voice and hands are included in architectural action, the more likely that person is to identify, consciously or subconsciously, as a steward of that space. Stewardship is an active relationship with a space that has the potential to empower communities through the collaborative creation of new kinds of physical and social architecture. This active engagement breathes life into what could otherwise be frozen, unresponsive form. As the social fibers of a space evolve and transform, so too can the physical space. Static, stale environments must adopt a new, more malleable essence, one which is rooted and stable but also responsive to its social and physical context. Experimental and inclusive participatory design processes can catalyze new and necessary forms of collective stewardship. This book chronicles a community-based design campaign at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Through the experimental and collectively-minded actions of a student-initiated and student-led group called Rehamping, a new form of community-wide campus stewardship has been put into practice. The evolving process and products of the design collective are testament to the transformative power of a collaborative, community-engaged design practice.
elements of participatory design This document is both retrospective and, more importantly, forward-looking. In illustrating the evolution of the Rehamping campaign, I have highlighted various key elements of campus-based participatory design that have enabled this movement to thrive. Although the five active elements to the right are deeply interwoven, they have been given distinct color bands that correspond to the color tabs sprinkled throughout the book. The right margins of this book act as an elemental guide, that introduces the essence of the particular action depicted on the page.
The campaign is laid out chronologically and the blue color tabs that appear throughout the book act as timestamps within the chronology. The nature of this organic movement requires a timeline that is nonlinear. When multiple tabs occur at once, the back and forth, iterative process of Rehamping is illustrated best. At many points throughout the campaign it is difficult to differentiate between stages, because there is always seamless overlap between what could be distinct processes. The beauty of the design/build process is that there is never a moment in which the designing ends and the fabrication begins. The processes are symbiotic.
fostering community ownership creating an accessible design process communicating ideas designing socially sustainable programming garnering trust begin spread design make give
origin of the design collective Rehamping grew organically out the Hampshire College-based Five College Architecture Club. The initial design campaign (chronicled in this book) generated such energetic momentum that it became its own self-sustaining movement. Through charrettes, meetings, informal discussions, exploratory walking tours, interactive surveys, community-wide presentations, and sketching sessions, Rehamping actively reimagines and transforms on-campus spaces. The collective constantly invents and implements new participatory design processes. The core group of Rehampers consists of students with a wide array of diverse interests from across the College’s various schools of thought. Although much of Rehamping’s work is design oriented, the group has generated discussions about space and architecture amongst people who had never before engaged in such discussions. All meetings and events are public and open, and the group’s outreach actions frequently attract new students. Rehamping explores the “everythingness” of architecture, realizing that contextually rich and community-responsive architecture is at its core intensely multidisciplinary. Our focus is to celebrate as many voices as possible in the design process, and because of this goal, we actively experiment with creative means of community engagement.
3 use these tabs to navigate the elements of participatory design
incorporate as many voices as possible into the design process collaborate with people whose skill sets and interests vary greatly experiment constantly with new forms of outreach create interactive design processes implement experiments respectfully
begin february 2010
connecting with the community In working to make the original design movement as accessible as possible, we posted the groupâ€™s evolving mission statement throughout the school. The mission statement acted more as an invitation than a manifesto. The language and lack of design/architecture-related imagery made it clear that the group was open to anyone who might be interested, not just designers and architects. Included in all postings, there were always links and references to our blog. The blog serves as a critical communication tool and it is updated frequently. It disseminates information and renders transparent our entire process. It also encourages people to get directly involved and shares ways in which they can connect with the group. Careful attention is paid to the design and distribution methods of all of our printed material. We employ a bold, consistent aesthetic that unites our various postings without standardizing them. We distinguish our postings through the use of unique dimensions, bold text with a consistent font, and well-designed layouts that convey a concise yet enticing message. In order to create a name that is present and recognizable, it is important that the media outreach used performs in a way that other typical forms do not. Our postings rarely communicate a unidirectional message, in that they most prompt the reader to respond through action or writing. In short, postings should communicate, inspire, and invite.
With these initial flyers, a sense of community ownership is fostered by prompting people to think critically about the space they inhabit and the way it performs. This suggests that the space is somehow accountable to them.
post a mission statement that functions as an invitation develop a consistent (but not uniform), bold aesthetic
create mutual trust by inviting people to transform postings
begin spread march 2010
show contact information and blog address in all media outreach post in unique places that are highly trafficked
be radical but respectful, respect the space while transforming it
When developing a solid aesthetic and creating well designed forms of media outreach, it is important to realize that over-designed publications can create a “professional” complex. This complex can make the design process seem less accessible. Solid and tight graphics are essential because it helps build the trust and interest of a space’s users and those who might have official domain over a space. However, when graphic publications become too professional and polished the information flow becomes unidirectional, in that outreach publications look like announcements or updates. They can lose their ability to act as an invitation. Our goal is always to make our publications as “touchable” and transformable as possible. To make it clear that our postings in the initial campaign were actually blank canvases waiting to be transformed, we hung up large pieces of trace paper. We measured the dimensions of different architectural elements, such as railings, columns, and benches and cut large slabs of paper to fit perfectly on top of them. Since the paper is semi-transparent, the material below showed through, seamlessly integrating the posters with the architectural space. Before mounting the sheets, we spray painted the Rehamping brand onto them. We hung markers along the posters. The text prompts encouraged people to write, and we initiated the writing stream by using the markers to write a little bit on each blank banner. If a posting is in fact supposed to be transformed, it is important make this as obvious as possible, for example, by writing a big, bold, messy sentence. The transparency of the paper made it look as if people were drawing directly on the surface of the architectural elements. The symbolic illusion creates a subtle sense of communal ownership of the space and allows people to become involved at this accessible scale. The interactive surveys allowed a social residue to form on surfaces that are normally inactive. The columns, benches, and railings came to life. We made sure the postings were as clean and architecturally integrated as possible, to convey the group’s commitment to enhancing the space. All banners were installed in highly trafficked spaces, creating small social eddies of activity around them.
encourage people to transform space instantly, with their own hands create involvement opportunities at all scales
post boldly, but make sure it looks clean and intentional
Within 12 hours of postering, the columns were saturated with comments, ideas, debate, and visible dialogue. The users of the space quickly appropriated the malleable sheets for community-wide discussion about relevant space-based and non-spatial issues. The rapid proliferation of text, arrows, and drawings communicated the widely held desire for more transformable and instantly responsive space. The open medium created through the installation was both wildly radical, yet instantly accepted and appropriated. This survey method was largely successful because of its complete transparency. No filtering or censorship took place. Comments were not delivered through a third party. The writer determined the size of the comment, its location, color, etc. Text became spatial in that the location of peopleâ€™s text had intention and meaning. Debates evolved and comments were networked together with lines, bubbles, and arrows. The static architectural elements became theatrical and social players in the spaces. The people who transformed the posters made our first visible public event exciting and relevant. The design group was not producing the â€œwowâ€? factor; they created the space for it. It was the people in the space who activated the campaign. The user activation of the campaign created a sense of communal ownership over the design process and the work of the group.
allow users to create new social space through their writing enable users to activate the design campaign and produce the “wow” use props (like pens) to convey the sense of transformability
demonstrate the group’s accountability to the users of the space
The visual commentary catalyzed our design work. We observed the banners as they became more and more saturated with text. We made note of reoccurring themes and other ideas that stood out. Many of the comments expressed a need for more communal spaces on campus. Many stated there was a need for a student center. These and other similar comments helped us narrow our focus to the Library and the Robert Crown Center, the most central and widely used buildings on campus. Most telling was not the textâ€™s content, but the textâ€™s presence. Without knowing it, community members expressed an interest in having spaces that are relevant, living, and transformable. All of our meetings, drawings, and brainstorming sessions were held in the spaces that we were reimagining. This further sparked peopleâ€™s curiosity and presented them with a direct way to collaborate with the group.
create transformable space meet in the relevant spaces, be visible
discover widely shared ideas and desires use community as to catalyze design
design proposals During our data collecting sessions, we explored the Library and Robert Crown Center in great depth through interactive walking tours. We spent many hours going from space to space. The design process was organic in that it was executed in the relevant spaces and was a direct product of our immediate observations. Our chosen design media were discussion, observation, and pencil. We synthesized and made visual group ideas through perspectival sketches. The sketches brought the entire group, drawers and nondrawers alike, into the space of our collective imaginations. Having at least one person sketch openly made tangible conversations that may have otherwise been abstract to some. Also, it made the design process more accessible to those who would not normally sketch. Everyone could contribute and critique as the sketches were developing. To orient people within the sketch, we drew in some current architectural elements, so that the proposed intervention could be easily understood and placed within its context. Before presentations, colors were added to the sketches to bring them to life. The official design work began by observing spaces that we frequented often. Very quickly we realized that there was even more to gain from critically exploring and experiencing spaces that we had either never seen before or had spent little time using. We discovered the detrimental effect that piecemeal planning has had on the building and its circulation over time. Rooms and spaces had been developed and redeveloped in isolation of each other. Most of the interstitial spaces had been wholly ignored. Instead of acting as social conduits, these in-between spaces were dark and chocked. The narrow design scope had caused much programmatic polarization. The distinct spaces within the building were not capable of communicating with each other.
We could have started by reimagining individual spaces, but instead our initial site-wide explorations brought us in a surprising direction. Before thinking about the specifics of the spaces we thought about the nature of the entire space, a conglomeration of spaces that forms a collective whole. During our walking tours, we reimagined the circulation of the two buildings and discussed ways in which disparate programs and spaces could become more interconnected. There is a surprisingly large volume of dead space in the building, much of which has atrophied because of the awkwardness of the building’s circulation. The most environmentally responsible form of design intervention is that which can exploit and appropriate existing infrastructure, instead of that which requires the creation of new infrastructure. Making “something” out of “nothing” by breathing life into the forgotten corners, rooms, and halls became one of our top priorities. Our approach in the library can be broken down into several interdependent phases. The first involved finding the dead space and documenting which factors have caused the space to atrophy over time. Almost always, the main issue was clogged circulation. We designed programmatic and spatial changes that would allow new circulation streams to flow to and from these developing nodes. Some of these changes involved moving certain locked doors, opening up locked stair ways, and adding fluid programming to lonely hallways. Tweaking circulation required an intimate knowledge of the entire site, its users, the flow, and the programming. We had frequent meetings and discussions and with the people most closely connected with the spaces, which when coupled with observation, helped us develop our own intimate knowledge base. Paralleling the process of large-scale, site-wide rewiring, we began to develop programmatic and spatial transformation proposals that took advantage of the large
tracts of dormant space and enhanced current programming. There was never a point where we completely switched from one scale to another. There was instead back and forth fluidity with our multiscaled approach. The synchronous approach allowed us to develop inventive intervention strategies that have the potential to greatly enhance current programming and provide space. The circulation desk of the library is one of the most central and active spaces on campus. Our design proposal here responds to the idea of creating responsive spaces that are instantly transformable. The wood and cement column can be transformed into a full surface message board with dangling writing implements strung around it. People can put up discussion topics, messages about upcoming events, solicitations, etc. Accentuating the column and the new activity it harbors, an empathetic light sculpture responds directly to the presence of people around the column. The computing bar to the right is for library patrons who need to look up or print something quickly.
create a permanent installation that is transformable
use sketchbook and discussion to jump into the collective imagination breathe life into dead spaces, exploit existing infrastructure, focus on circulation
spread design march 2010
The sleepy 2nd Floor lounge houses print journals and magazines. All four surrounding walls are opaque, so the space feels deeply embedded within the building. On the far end are three media viewing rooms (all of which have an incredible view of the quad). The irony is that media rooms work best when the light is easily controlled. Plus, a view is irrelevant when watching visual media. We found other tracts of space for the media rooms and proposed removing the light partition that separates the two. In place of the interior cinder block wall, a glass wall would be constructed, allowing the lounge to have a view through the space to the quad. The new transparent space (the combined media rooms) can become a study/ collaborative work space. The larger lounge can house all the CDâ€™s and become a more comfortable and funky media listening/lounge-type study space. All these physical transformations require no structural changes.
Before the summer 2010 renovation, the 3rd Floor Computer Lab was one of the dreariest places on campus. The equipment was sparkling new but the space was cold, harshly lit, completely neglected, and thus unused. Our proposal removes the half wall (to the right in the picture below) and another wall to create large L-shaped volume. This would incorporate a corner with an incredible view into the lab. Corners are powerful, comfortable spaces. They provide for a clear sense of orientation within a larger space. But many of the corners in the library are cut off and under-used. There are a variety of working surfaces we propose creating within the large L-volume. These include a computer bar, round tables, comfortable couches, and large square study hall tables around the corner. We found a way to reroute night circulation so that the lab can be opened 24/7.
create structurally noninvasive as solutions
The Ground Floor Hall is the most centrally located space in the library, yet it is nearly invisible because it can only be accessed through the library itself. Since it is within circulation territory, all users must enter and exit through the First Floor entrance (through the security sensors). A door bifurcates the hall, leaving one side highly trafficked and the other inaccessible. Our circulation plan demonstrates how these channels can be reworked so that the hallway door can be removed and the two spaces can become one fluid, socialized space. Once open, we propose transforming the space into a gallery for Division II work. Currently, no similar space exists on the campus.
create space for those not normally represented
invigorate central spaces, integrate them with circulation
Since the Ground Floor corridor would no longer be a part of secured Circulation space, the exterior hall door can be permanently unlocked. This would create a river of foot traffic throughout the Ground Floor. The entire Library complex would open itself to western campus.
Below is the door that bifurcates the Ground Floor Hall. Once removed, the central part of the hall would become a large, interior court yard. Our proposal extracts a small corner area from the school store, which allows the courtyard to swell with more circulation. The concrete walls of the school store would be converted into large glass panes. This would provide for greater visual connectivity between the two spaces.
explore uses for outdoor pockets enhance existing programming
Along the upper periphery of the Gallery are two long sections of flat roof that could be made accessible by adding a door leading out from the Bridge. The roof section to the left would be converted into an outdoor patio and study hall. The space is visually separated from the Quad. Unlike the active, social Quad, this quieter, slower outdoor space would act like an eddy, appealing to those who want to work outside but cannot focus in the Quad. This outdoor space is unique because of its contained, urban feel. It contrasts most wide-open spaces on campus because it is surrounded by low brick walls and glass. It would also provide the Bridge Cafe with a nice outdoor seating area. The other, less accessible rectangular roof can hold a low maintenance, native garden.
This visual overlapping of the outdoor patio, the study hall and the gallery below would occur without an acoustical overlap, because they are separated by glass. It is acoustical overlap between loud and quiet spaces that causes tension in many of Hampshire Collegeâ€™s public spaces. People on the patio could look in through the large windows at the gallery below and people in the gallery can watch other people circulate above.
This storage closet below is the most centrally located room on campus. It is in the heart of the most central building on the campus. Situated within the Ground Floor corridor, this space is immediately outside of the gallery. A high contrast juxtaposition exists where the most architecturally stunning space on campus abuts this double-door closet. Our proposal moves the storage space down the hall to a less central location and opens up the current space as new store front for the student-run food cooperative. This would create space for a swell of social activity in the new interior court.
pull important programming out of the periphery and incorporate it into the center
observe how programming with distinct acoustical characteristics is layered
In the Robert Crown Center we again focused on pushing life into what we considered to be dead spaces. This corridor over looks the gym below. The wall is not high enough to allow someone to lean on it, and there are no seats. so nothing draws people into the space. We propose constructing a long, slender bar counter which creates both a nice space for spectators when activities are happening below and new study/meeting place when the space below is quieter.
The upper area in the Robert Crown Center is largely undefined and barren. The volume is consistent throughout so there are few distinct bays of space. Our proposals constructs a platform seating system whose angles resonate with the 45 degree angles that compose the sharp geometry of the building. The top level elevates people such that they can take full advantage of the large bay of glass, especially during the winter. In its current state, the glass starts right above head-level (when sitting). The entire sense of transparency is lost because of the eye-level brick. The top level seating is reconfigurable; there are soft bean bag chairs sprinkled throughout. At the ground level, intimate pockets of space are created for individual or group studying, relaxing, eating, or meeting.
create people-watching space
create pockets of space
We held two community-wide presentations of our collaborative design work. The events were widely advertised through internet postings, posters, flyers, and by word of mouth. We set up three individual projection screens. One had an image of the current space. Another had a hand drawn and colored render of our proposal, and the third had a plan view with the space highlighted. We began by talking about our experimental process and explaining that a wide body of constituents was involved with the process at many different scales. The rest of the presentation was organized as if it were a walking tour. Careful attention was used in developing the flow and order of the presentation. It was as if we were walking the entire group through the spaces. Our descriptions of the proposed design interventions pulled the audience directly into our collective imagination.
walk audience through site, always reference familar spaces
communicate that the process is still active
spread design april 2010
During both presentations, the audience was actively engaged and responsive. This was because many of them began to develop a more critical awareness of spaces with which they were connected. Many also realized that they had been involved in the process to some degree. After each presentation, we set aside plenty of time for discussion, critique, and general feedback. Nothing was presented as being finalized. Rather, we framed our proposals as the beginning of a greater idea.
frame proposals as a beginning of a much larger, collaborative idea present nothing as being set in stone leave room for debate, listen closely to sharp critique
the trial piece of the proposal All of the design proposals received enthusiastic support, but one in particular received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Many found the idea of of creating a Division III Corner to be relevant, inspiring, and all together necessary. At Hampshire, each year an incredible body of work is produced, but much of it becomes invisible due to a lack of accessible and inspiring archiving. We proposed creating a lounge and book case in the corner that would be exclusively dedicated to Division III work. Previously, there were two large shelving units that hid the cornerâ€™s potential. The thesis books displayed on the shelves were not accessible because the units abutted a quiet study area, making browsing through the books a seemingly invasive act. We decided to begin by focusing our design efforts on transforming this space. Our hope was to set a strong precedent, communicate the design collectiveâ€™s potential, and build our own credibility. The scale was feasible, but the product and evolving process promised to have a profound impact. In order to gain the trust of the community, a trust that would allow us to develop projects at a greater scale in the future, we funneled all of our design efforts into the space.
create relevant programmming breakdown grand plans into smaller, more digestable components
work at full scale to master the human scale
During the summer of 2010, the first floor of the library was renovated. The result in this particular corner was similar to our sketched proposal for the space. The large island shelving units were completely removed, creating a new corner, lounge space. A metal shelving system was installed against the wall. The structure was barren, out of scale, and had a haphazard form. The inadequate shelving, coupled with the new openness of the lounge further reinstated our belief that this space was ripe for change. Our design meetings were held regularly in this space. We explored and documented its dimensions so that our conceptual work could begin to take on real scale.
design september 2010
design for flexibility
The rich diversity of Division III thesis work is the most striking characteristic of Hampshire College. When representation is limited to written material, this breadth is rendered invisible. To highlight the diversity and the importance of process, we decided that the bookshelf should become a multimedia showcase, capable of displaying Division III work in many different media formats. We also decided that it should become a hub for Division III work in progress. Division IIIâ€™s are process oriented, yet there were no spaces on campus dedicated to celebrating and communicating this process. Creating a space that is capable of evolving requires form that is fully transformable both digitally and physically. We incorporated two digital components into our design scheme. One is an LCD screen to display work in progress, solicitations, announcements, and documentation of finished work. The other is a computer station, open to the multimedia digital archive. The database was already in existence, but very few community members knew about the resource. An architectural space for the digital
environment has the potential to revitalize the digital archiving. In creating the Showcase, we exploited the networking essence of digital, online communities and databases and invented ways to manifest them physically. The Showcase was able to become a physical, social hub of information and exchange by transforming digitally inspired ideas into architectural solutions. After meeting with library staff, students, and faculty and broadening our media scope, the need to build flexibility into the Showcase became even more apparent. Sustainably designed space involves creating form and programming that can evolve over time. The library is a space that teeters on the edge of a large scale evolutionary moment. Media formats and the ways in which they are accessed are constantly changing. The library, traditionally an archive of printed material, must constantly reimagine itself spatially and socially. Any design intervention that takes place within the library space must be capable of adapting, so that future users and programs can appropriate and manipulate its form.
The need for flexibility led us to develop a conceptual structural system composed of permanent vertical and horizontal members that together form dynamic zigzags that run diagonally across the showcase. The red lines below show the structural, fixed components. The tan lines represent the shelves, which can be arranged in many different ways.
make design flexible yet permanent give examples about how the design can evolve
collective ownership of process In a community-based design/build process, a deep level of collaboration through the constant sharing of ideas is necessary. Individual ownership over ideas succumbs to the phenomenon of collective ownership. Everyone contributes ideas, energy, and work but individual contributions cannot be singled out and claimed. Group members should be able to sense that they are actively contributing to an evolving process and that their ability to contribute in a meaningful way is a product of the groupâ€™s dynamic sharing. The Rehamping notebook is evidence of this collective ownership. It is property of no one individual. It instead belongs to the group and is passed around during meetings. It is the conduit for many of our ideas and its pages document the collective imagination of the group. At times, instead of typing meeting minutes for the blog, the pages of the book were scanned and posted. This rawness conveys the honesty, transparency, and openness of the group. The book will be passed on from student to student and will act as a living history of the group and its process.
maintain a collectively owned and used notebook realize that individual ideas are collective ideas, expel ego from design process
“what do you think?”
After a series of iterative design sessions and meetings with various students, faculty, and staff our conceptual design work was ripe and ready for community wide critique. We installed large posters and blank sheets of paper on the library columns, this time with prompts specifically related to the Division III Corner. Also posted was a timeline that chronicled our process and an open invitation to anyone who wanted to join the group and participate in a more direct way. One commonly shared goal was to inspire peopleâ€™s imaginations and turn them on to the design process and the idea of community-initiated architectural change. Because of the complexity of our proposal, we had to increase the scale and frequency of our media presence, so that we could critically engage people with the physical corner itself. Our spacebased installations always read as a narrative. When designing our banners, careful attention is paid to where they are placed and how they interact with each other. Our media performs. An awareness of user flow within a space is an integral component of our media design process. For example, in this series of posters, each one builds on the last and pulls the user deeper into the space. The first is usually a teaser. It is intentionally vague to spark the readerâ€™s interest. It visually references the next, which is within easy viewing distance. With this particular installation, we also used arrows to more effectively concentrate the flow of people into the corner. When turning around to leave the corner (after visiting), another banner prompted response and critique. One example of an affective and intriguing order is as follows: a teaser and vague command, substance and revelation of the project, a prompt and visible avenue for responding.
prompt people to write and respond
increase media presence if scale of project increases
ask for critique, be accountable
spread design november 2010
official proposal After refining our conceptual design work, we prepared a proposal that introduced the group, the process, and the current project proposal. The document was drafted collaboratively and distributed widely to many faculty and staff. Included with each proposal was a personal note addressed to the recipient letting them know our reason for sending the proposal to them specifically. Seeking the advice and critique of specific people helped to further foster a sense of collective ownership, because it let these constituents know that their ideas were considered to be a valuable part of our process. We directly responded to every concern that was brought to us by various constituents, and framed it within the text in a way that showed that we were actively responsive. The proposal also clearly laid out how people can get involved and provide more feedback or ideas.
tell people why you believe their perspective is valuable prompt people to write and respond
create a professional, well-designed proposal
After distributing the proposals and meeting again with the people who are officially in charge of the library, we received approval to continue developing the project and move towards implementation.
refining the design To transition from conceptual design into technical design, we constructed a full scale string model of the showcase. With the model we were able to establish five standard shelving lengths while creating a form that looks organic and non-standardized. Standardizing the spans meant that it will be easier for users to reconfigure the space. The pin-up created a fully interactive experience, in which we could pretend we were reaching for books, viewing the screen, using the computer, reading text, etc. Had the design work been executed at a difference scale, the object would likely not interface with users as fluidly as it currently does.
While constructing the model, we made frequent trips between the studio and the library. It was crucial to always place the model and our ideas in the library space. Design developed in a vacuum has the tendency to produce an object, not a space. In the studio model, we placed the LCD mock-up as far right as possible in the showcase so that it would be visible from the central corridor. After spending time in the library however, we discovered a column that blocks the view of the far right portion of the showcase so we moved the LCD left to a location where it would be visible from afar. The alteration would not have happened had we only designed in the studio.
The physical model and digital model were constructed simultaneously. Some students pinned-up and measured string while others entered the information into the digital design software. Working on the computer kept the measurements tight and accurate while working physically incorporated a rich sense of human scale.
create large scale model (more hands can be involved)
visit site frequently during the design process
design january 2011
Although we had created a scaled digital model and 3-D renders, we knew it was important to construct a physical model. Physical models have the power to transform peopleâ€™s conceptions of space, helping them to realize that all space can be manipulated. When displayed in the library our model performed in a number of ways. It communicated our design ideas to all users of the space. It also made many people aware of the potential plasticity of space on the campus, and it served as a promise of sorts that the design would come to fruition. The 3-D model pulled people into our 2-D publications.
use modeling medium that best communicates the design and scale help people become aware of the plasticity of their spaces
use model as a form of promise
A series of 11 uniquely shaped cubbies comprise the structural system of the Showcase. Within them, below them and around them, Division III work in many different mediums can be displayed. Cubbies will have electrical outlets for lighting, digital installations, additional screens, etc.
This screen will display digital documentation of Division III work (and process). Many mediums can be shown, including video, animation, and images. In addition, upcoming Div III events, presentations, performances, workshops, and gallery openings can be posted. Division III students and alums will be able to post announcements and upload slides, video, etc.
d-space interface This workstation prominently displays the extensive online D-Space Database so that students, prospective students, faculty, and staff can browse. Increased visibility will help make people aware of this valuable resource, accessible from any computer.
Thirty removable shelves infuse the Showcase with extreme flexibility. As representative medium evolve, this wired and transformable display will be able to adapt.
message board Students can solicit help, rant and rave, post Div III announcements and events, and see what other Div III students are currently doing.
classic black bound books
cds & dvds
video, animation, announcements
media outreach In addition to the frequent library installations and the blog, distributable printed publications played a key role in enabling the design collective to be granted approval to construct the showcase and to gain more commnity support. Every publication that we distribute is designed with intention. This includes flyers, announcements, mailers, grant proposals, and even budget spreadsheets. In always being intentional about design in everything, the more our architectural design decisions are trusted. Printed material also helped us reach out to people who do not use the normal campus-based and digital means of communication. For example, the above booklets were produced for members of the Board of Trustees. Every component of our publications must be unique and unconventional in its massing, layout, weight, dimensions etc. For example, the above booklets were stuffed into trustee information packets that were full of 8.5â€?x11â€? pieces of paper (assembled by the college). The idea was that a hand would gravitate towards the dense square mass when it reaches into the envelope.
distribute publications in a personal way
design all publications with intention and care
use graphic design to maintain transparency
technical drawings After receiving approval to build and install the showcase, we decided that it would be best to collaborate with a professional woodworking firm. Fine cabinetry work is a technical art that requires a very specific toolset and material knowledge. The resources on campus were not adequate enough to enable us to produce the quality of woodwork that we sought to produce. We saw the great potential benefit in collaborating with experts to build our design work. For our first meeting with the carpenter (Brian Vilbon from Thayer Street Associates), we made sure our presentation was professional and clear. The more resolved a project is from the onset of the fabrication phase, the more true to the design the final product will be. We also made it clear that we wanted to be active participants in the fabrication process. We did not want to just hand it off. The shop manager was so impressed with our energy and presentation, that he offered to collaborate in fabricating the showcase. During our first few meetings with the shop manager, we spoke mainly about materials, essential components, and their dimensions. Before working with the carpenter, our technical drawings conveyed the form and proportions. During January Term, we drew the actual shop drawings which illustrate every single component of the showcase and how the whole unit is pieced together. Real world material considerations helped root and mature our design work.
make clear the intention to collaborate with professionals, instead of sending out the work learn from experts use technical drawings as an education tool
build builditit In collaborating with a professional, we redefined the idea of an apprenticeship. Instead of learning the art of woodworking through building a project with which we were not connected, we were fabricating our own original design work. The experience was empowering and educational, because we were deeply connected with the design. The design/build nature of the project meant that even as fabrication was underway, the design process continued and evolved. This direct relationship between an architect and the act of building is rare, but the material implications are profound. Through these exchanges, the architect can develop a deeper, more intuitive understanding of materials and their behaviors. We began by sorting through the wood and setting aside the best sheets for the most visible pieces. Grain types were matched up for the back panels so that the joints would be seamless.
Edge banding was added to the edges of the cut plywood so that wood (specifically for the lower storage doors), would be professionally finished.
open shop to many community members work fluidly between design and build
The first two days were deveoted to preparing the various kinds of wood that we would be using. Roughcut wood was planed to the proper dimensions and then sanded .
We developed a cut list for all the diagonal partition pieces and then spent a full day cutting plywood.
We marked the holes for the biscuits then cut them out.
The bottom shelf storage cubbies were then assembled.
We developed drill press organizational template system, then drilled all the pinholes.
As the project developed, zigzags began to take over the shop. We assembled the main frame of the unit in the back of the shop.
We left some messages for Hampshire future within the diagonal spanning partitions.
To minimize waste, smaller scrap pieces were spliced together to make new larger pieces.
write a message to the future
After assembling a partition, we temporarily installed it into the main frame.
During the last week, our energy was focused on finish work (sanding and spaying).
We marked the center points for the lights then drilled the holes.
We carefully loaded all the indidivual pieces into the truck and after a short drive, unloaded them into the library.
We began to design the sign in the shop.
Bold, intriguing signage allows the Showcase to communicate itself and its purpose in a way that many spaces on the Hampshire campus cannot. The spaces at Hampshire that are uniquely “Hampshire” are usually that way because of the social interactions through which they are formed. One original goal of the Showcase was to create a space that communicated itself, wholly and in an intriguing way. We designed 7 different sign options then created multiple forums in which people could comment on the different options. The most active forum was the Rehamping-style, “write-on-me” banner. The banner was mounted under a chip-board mock up of one sign (far left). This clearly communicated the approximate massing for all the options. We fabricated the most positively received option. Many felt connected with the process and anticipated the installation of the sign.
present many options and encourage critical response display mock-ups express flexibility of design process
spread design make
“dear hampshire future”
In true Rehamping style, we again invited people to write on the walls. During the installation, for four days the showcase was fully assembled in the library, but not installed. The back was open and accessible. We designed a sign inviting people to “write a message to Hampshire Future” and left permanent markers everywhere. The simple act of writing on the back pieces of wood had a powerful effect in that it connected people with the reality that this new space and object was theirs. We wanted to symbolically express that the Showcase is meant to be appropriated and transformed. It is meant to convey many moments of Hampshire College. Also, in allowing people to draw on the “invisible” back, it was as if they have been let in on a secret, and this idea of harboring a secret about a space can help someone develop a very meaningful connection because of the intimate knowledge they hold. They can become a steward of the space.
reveal a secret, write a message
create clear, bold signage with a prompt
spread design make
There are several design innovations that greatly enhance the ways in which people interface with the showcase. Magnets that are embedded within the wood nosing are an example of this. Printed strips of paper can be slipped into the metal tag holders which then cling onto the magically magnetic wood. This labeling systems opens the door for new genre-based curating.
rearrrange it transform it
Flexibility is one of the driving characteristics in our design work. To make the showcase as easily transformable as possible, there are three long, panoramic cubbies with low profile swinging doors that house all the extra shelves, pins, art mounting rods, hooks, etc. Student curators can easily manipulate the space without having to search for components.
In staying true to the broad multimedia focus of the showcase, we designed an art/ object hanging and display system. There are a series of custom fabricated steel rods, who lengths mimic the shelves. The rods have slits that enable them to be mounted on the pins. Hooks and clips hang on the rods, allowing it to accommodate many different kinds of hanging media.
rearrrange it transform it
To enhance user interactivity, we found the optimal horizontal spacing for the shelf pins holes that enables shelves to be flipped then tilted and secured at any angle. Nosing was added to both ends of the shelves. When a shelf is tilted, the top nosing catches the pins and the bottom nosing acts as a lip to keep displayed media from sliding out. Every shelf can be titled to any angle, creating a rich variety of reading nooks and endless reconfigurations
rearrrange it transform it
The opening celebration was a joyous and historic Hampshire event. The entire first floor of the usually quiet library was completely transformed into a social space full of sound. A series of signs pulled people in towards the Showcase. On display were a 3-D timeline of the project’s history, construction drawings, and fabrication images. There were several groupings of images showing the different ways in which various components could be transformed and manipulated. During the presentation, We shared the project history, goals, design “secrets” with the entire group. The “revelation” of the “secrets” engaged people with the showcase in a way that helped them realize the collective ownership that they share and uniqueness of the space.
reveal the scetrets.
show entire process
To nobodyâ€™s surprise, we prompted people to again write on the wall! We wanted to make it clear that the showcase, rather than being complete, was just beginning.
what do you think?
Michael Meo's Division III Book.