ABX Design Competition
A PLACE TO COLLECT
Conferences are a place for old friends to gather and for new friends to meet. At the annual ABX conference there are a wide variety of people that take advantage of the common spaces for networking, interviews, and work. Beyond this, people also look for places to socialize and eat. We aim to provide a place to collect by created a large bench that has a series of small and large spaces for sitting, resting, and socializing. This project was submitted to the annual ABX | Architecture Boston Expo (2016). This was a collaborative project with Leonard Yui, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Roger Williams University. This design won second place.
We want to design a place in an indoor conference that encourages engagement, opportunities for material to be pinned up, private moments, and people watching. Research and observations reveal that people are drawn to places to sit so we use the idea of a bench and enlarge it. By creating a large sitting area we have been able to create spaces to gather in large and small groups. We propose the bench to be designed by used pallets.
In this project we asked the following question:
What is common ground and how do we design a space within a conference hall for a diverse set of users?
Bench as Landscape - We offer a very large bench to activate public participation. A bench is a universal gathering place, temporary, conjures intimate and semi-private moments, an inviting edge as well as an agreeable border. A bench flexes depending on occasion, weather or event. This project expands the bench to a landscape scale to spur, reflect and share dialog and ideas gathered at the convention.
Pallet as Civic Material + Ecological Structure: Can reused materials shed their stigma of “waste?” There is a great deal of energy spent on generating and selling new products, but diversion from the landfill requires even more creative fervor by designers and engineers to sustain a consumer process. Ephemeral products such as the typical wooden pallet offer even more challenges because they are placeless things designed for a singular purpose. Yet a wood pallet’s simplicity in design, generic material quality and relative abundance harbor deeper reflections of our consumer driven practices - affordability, high turnover, etc. Perhaps there are opportunities for wood pallets to reinform consumerism as well. Wood products offer designers with possibilities to unpackage their embodied ecological processes - allowing for new meanings beyond presumed exploits. These leanings challenge spatial perceptions and even social hierarchies that many materials unofficially parlay, e.g. granite as “better” than wood.
U.S. Wood Pallet Statistics*: U.S. Forest Service estimate there are 1.9 billion pallets in service in the U.S. In 2011, 416 million new pallets were made, however millions still end up in landfills and of this only a quarter is recycled. Historically, New England has reused pallets in the form of biomass fuel and mulch. *Sources: US Forest Service, Virginia Tech Forest Products Research and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.