Media Art and Design Exposed in Edmonton ran it’s 11th annual street furniture competition this past Saturday (June 23). We entered because it looked like a fun way to spend the day, and designing and building is always a good time. The competition was part of the larger works festival on Churchill square, and there were tons of people dropping by and watching the construction process take place.
I entered the competition with a former classmate and good friend Maria, another intern architect. Teams were a max of 3, so thinking logically, making a team of only architect/designers seemed like a good way to blow through our time constraints (6 hours). So I asked if my Dad (a contractor/builder) would join, and since he couldn’t make it until later, he could take the form of the calvary, and rescue our -no doubt to be- overly complex project. Fortunately, we kept it simple, and his extra help was not required. My family did drop by and offer moral support though!
It seemed like most teams had preplanned extensively, and came with fairly detailed drawings. We decided not to do this for two reasons; we didn’t know what we were going to get for material beforehand, and we simply didn’t have time. However, we did pick up a couple of threaded rods with complimenting hardware. At the time, it looked to give us the most flexibility to construct whatever we thought of on the day. So after the material selection process, which was partially done by raffle, and part free-for-all, we had a large LVL structural beam, and a stack of small fence boards. We then adjourned the craziness of the construction site to the coffeeshop to brainstorm and of course to get coffee.
Our concept in the end was a bicycle rack, one that used the least amount of material and was as minimal as we could make it. We didn’t waste any of the LVL, and ended up giving almost all of our additional wood away to other teams. We ended up spending a lot of time on the logistics of the how the rack would work – fortunately a friend was willing to lend his bike for the day (thanks Matt!) – and we were able to come up with a fairly functional solution – it just took some resizing and disassembly. We were (fairly) confident we would make the deadline, but having only 3 pieces of wood laying on the ground with less than an hour to go must have looked dire to the gathered crowd and other groups.
In the end we walked away feeling pretty well. We kept a relaxed pace throughout and had a lot of fun, both building and saying hi to those friends who dropped by. The bike rack concept was good enough to get us second place in the competition, which came with a gift certificate for Armstrong 29, a rad interior design shop. We also see the design as being quite functional and perhaps usable in the city with very few modifications. Perhaps opportunity will come up to develop the idea further with Edmonton pushing for more bike culture?