Tag: bamboo


Bamboo Lattice Vault

Bamboo lattice canopy installed as part of the Kiosk Culture exhibition at ANO Ghana cultural and arts center for the launch of Gallery1957 in Accra, Ghana. 

Commissioned by Ghanaian art historian, curator, writer and filmmaker Nana Oforiatta-Ayim (shown above). Assembled over two days to test method for building mid-size roofed space quickly using all-natural materials—bamboo and woven rattan mats—in dialog more broadly with the concept of "kiosk culture".

Method of construction: Bamboo culms split into slats, joined into long linear elements, formed into arches and interwoven—to form a self- supporting structural web that references the language of baskets and weaving—a combination of the techniques earlier tested with students at Ashesi University, who designed and built PVC lattice vault and the bamboo slat dome prototypes, under supervision of DK Osseo-Asare and Augustus Richardson.



Otublohum Transponder

The spirit of today is that we deny the spirits—and in so doing negate not only understanding but also future possibility. Bypassing Jamestown's history and pyscho-geography so rich it should blow minds, many too many passersby pass by everyday unawares—losing touch with the magic of that quantum mechanical African electronics that charges space while they simultaneously lose control—enslaved by mindless technology masterminded by webmasters in faraway lands—seeking solitary solace in social networks that ultimately suppress their spirit and the spirits. So much static that we forget to dream our own dreams. #OtublohumTransponder is a prototype bambot that intermixes dreams. Perhaps through hearing distant unknown voices we may rediscover our latent power to download from the past to imagine the future and recreate our own realities.

Otublohum Transponder is a prototype #bambot (bamboo architecture robot) installed in Otublohum Square, Jamestown as part of the sixth annual Chale Wote Street Arts Festival in Accra, Ghana. The theme of the 2016 edition was 'Spirit Robot', per organizers ACCRA [dot] ALT:

"The CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival is an alternative platform that brings art, music, dance and performance out into the streets. The community-based festival takes place in James Town – Accra’s most historic community – and targets exchanges between scores of Ghana-based and international artists and patrons by creating and appreciating art together. Since 2011, CHALE WOTE has included graffiti murals, photography, theater, spoken word, interactive art installations, live street performances, panels, tours, extreme sports, a film festival, a fashion parade, food and design markets...

In 2016, we ramp up the energy of CHALE WOTE by building a universal TRANSmitter – a singular architecture – that we call SPIRIT ROBOT. This immersive memory-tech presents a world within a world where life can be structured on different terms. CHALE WOTE 2016 exists as an interconnected system of pan-African geometry shifting. SPIRIT ROBOT is a sacred current that decodes worldly systems of racist capitalism, alienation and subjection. SPIRIT ROBOT mutates these frequencies as a way of creating new histories, art and knowledge."

[ With Yasmine Abbas & Nana Abrah-Asiedu ]

Blog entry

Bamboo TV

Television is a word invented at the turn of the 20th century, to describe the (then) emergent phenomena of transmitted and projected electronic audio and visual displays. Technically, it means:

"an electronic system of transmitting transient images of fixed or moving objects together with sound over a wire or through space by apparatus that converts light and sound into electrical waves and reconverts them into visible light rays and audible sound" (m-w.com)

Part of the thinking behind the bamboo "TV" that we built for Sir Black and Martin William's Otublohum Urban Living Room installation at this year's Chale Wote festival was to get Jamestown's young people outside in the open air and expose them to the sounds, images and ideas of their own culture and community — not just the over-commercialized global pop narrative that emanates from the electronic televisions in their actual living rooms, and increasingly, everywhere in the city.

(In the future, we will all have tele-vision.)

Design233 posted a nice roundup of Chale Wote 2013, an amazing festival to celebrate Jamestown, reclaim public space through the arts and re-imagine the city. Community planner and urbanist Victoria Okoye considered this year's event in the context of public space on Urban Africa, as well as wrote up the pocket park project done with Ghana Urban Platform. Accra [dot] Alt, the group behind the initiative, now in it's third year — the only independently produced arts festival in West Africa — also uploaded a great video of the sights and sounds "in reverse".

We spent a week in Otublohum Square, at the intersection of Accra's High Street and Brazil Lane, which leads to Brazil House. It was an unforgettable experience to meet so many people in the community and learn so much about Jamestown and it's history (not to mention building bamboo trusses!). The budget was only GHC 400 (USD 200); hopefully next year we can find a bigger pot, and do more to rehabilitate this important piece of Accra's urban heritage. Here are a few pics of the buildout (more on Facebook):

And a fantastic performance by New Morning Cafe, in which through dancing, drumming and narration in the local dialect they re-interpreted folk icons of the goddesses of Air, Water, Earth and Mami Wata to explain to children the importance of nature and the inter-relationship of the environment and their actions:

Thanks to all the makers who helped build the bamboo TV and the urban living room at Otublohum! And check out the #Accratopia project that Hassan Salih and crew are working on: to transcend the negativity and imagine a utopian future for Accra in 2050. This was hugely well-received at Chale Wote: even the youngest could understand the message. All of which speaks to the power of images...

After the festival, the bamboo structure was disassembled and transported to Berekuso Hill Station, where it will find new life in the on-going #bambot (bamboo robot) experiments. And in case you want to build your own "bamboo TV" stage:

Blog entry

Bambusa Tuldoides!

Received an early Christmas present when a friend introduced to (what we think is) a forest of bambusa tuldoides. Most bamboo in Ghana is bambusa vulgaris - which is more knobby and grows twice as big. Dropped 300 culms selected across both species for maturity on site at Berekuso Hill Station on the 24th. Heading back up this weekend to check-in on drying process and for some more full-size model-making: including joint mechanisms for bamboo canopy and first up of the bamboo robots, a waterbot for smart drip irrigation with an Arduino uno brain.



In/Formal Kiosk Culture

Africa today has among the highest rates of urbanization on the planet. In the twin cities Accra and Tema, the human settlement closest to the earth's geographic origin 0-0, this urban growth puts pressure on networks of electricity, transportation and ecology.

Tema is a new town built from scratch for 250,000 people. Sixty years later, the population is 2-4X that size, and coupled with Accra reaches several million.

The construction industry in Ghana is part of the informal sector — mobile or semi-legal kiosks and containers that retrofit automobiles and electronics, fabricate furniture, building materials, dresses, hairstyles, food...and which sell mobile phone credits on every street corner — the basic unit of information in Africa.

Official policy is to excise the cancer of the informal from the city. But micro-enterprises not only provide jobs; they are also where – out of necessity – improvisation is automatic. These are sites of innovation.

Meanwhile innovation has stalled in Ghana's building industry over the past forty years - a period during which innovation was forced from the top down; that failed.

This project inverts that model. The informal sector is already innovating: accessible information is the catalyst for accelerating that innovation. This is social design R&D, and it has to be from the bottom-up.

One example is bamboo lifecycling. Grow bamboo on undeveloped land in the city, use it to self-build bigger and higher-performance micro-architecture that approach zero cost, and burn as cooking fuel when the buildings expire. This means money typically spent on construction can be used instead on things like solar panels or shared wifi. Bottom-up means using tactics of the informal... like planting bamboo on land we don't own, and prototyping not in isolation but with people who work in the informal sector.

The paradox is that -economically- cities provide jobs but -ecologically- construction of the city is proportional to destruction of nature. The limiting constraint in many African urban ecologies may now no longer be capital, but rather access to information: How to simultaneously expand economic and ecological densities sustainably.


Yoga Mat Storage

The clients asked for a series of streamlined shelving units for yoga mats that could maximize storage without compromising the tranquility and simplicity of their small but popular shala, which had no means for organizing the 30-40 yoga mats that their students left in the changing rooms every night.

Considering the client’s needs for non-toxic materials and flexible arrangements, the bamboo-wood units were designed to be rotated and aligned in a number of ways, with the potential to serve as stand-alone partitions in a future setting.

CNC-routing technology was used to cut the subtly changing curves of the shelves, which soften the edge of the unit and ease the accessibility of the mats.

Blog entry

Site Prep

we're back online with construction. today we began clearing uncontrolled bamboo growth on the east side of the lot. the site is actually filled with bamboo. we used a bobcat to help with the task but made sure to use our hands and shovels in the critical root zone of a neighboring pecan tree. we never saw any of the pecan's roots so everything worked out well. Adolpho, who operates the Austin based landscaping service American Trees, is helping us out with the site prep (we're also using them to haul off construction waste that we cannot recycle). They've been great to work with thus far and have gotten things done quickly and on time.

there was A LOT of bamboo and there is still a lot more under the rest of the site. these are just the roots within a 5' strip on the east side of the lot.

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