In Spring 2020 Knowle West residents worked with architects, artists and technologists to learn about and experiment with digital construction tools, exploring what communities can make together.
Launched in February 2020, the Making Together programme coincided with the start of a nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Making Together team, led by KWMC and Automated Architecture Labs (AUAR), a research laboratory based at The Bartlett School of Architecture, adapted the programme, and workshops that were planned to take place in our digital innovation space KWMC The Factory instead took place in homes across Bristol!
Prior to lockdown, KWMC The Factory hosted a family-friendly taster day in February 2020 where people of all ages came together to experiment with a range of digital building systems including Augmented Reality tools and automated processes.
Following the taster day, we launched two paid opportunities for learning and skills exchange: Making Together for Trades and Making Together for Everyone. The Trades group included people with previous experience of building, construction and digital manufacturing, while the Everyone cohort included artists and Knowle West residents with no building experience but bags of enthusiasm and local knowledge.
Between March and July 2020 the groups took part in a series of online workshops to explore the tools and processes of digital design and building in more detail.
During the workshops, participants used a new design app developed by AUAR to create designs for pop-up “pavilion” structure that could be manufactured using the tools and processes they’d learned about.
The structure – called ‘Block West’ – was made using a modular building system – called Block Type A – designed by AUAR. Block Type A uses a fixed set of Lego-like lightweight plywood building blocks that can be reconfigured into different designs over time without the need for specialised tools or expertise.
It means the pieces can also be cut locally at KWMC The Factory and the structure can eventually be broken down into parts and re-assembled as benches, planters, stages, and outdoor pieces.
The Block West pavilion was built by a team of local residents in early September and will be in place outside Knowle West Media Centre from 12 September to 9 October 2020.
COVID-19 has highlighted the need for different kinds of spaces in our cities and neighbourhoods to enable people and communities to be together safely: spaces that are open to everyone, provide both escape and connection, and make space for nature.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Block West is open to the public for booked visits only, with a maximum of six people in the space at any one time. You can book a visit online or by calling KWMC on 0117 903 0444.
In collaboration with the people who built Block West, artist and dancer Tim Lytc explored the concept of ‘making spaces for being together’ through the ‘Occupy and Adapt’ residency” in Autumn 2020. Tim’s movements are partly inspired by how the community members moved, worked together and used different tools during the construction process. Watch Tim’s response to Block West in the film ‘Assembling’, below.
Knowle West residents have been busy during COVID-19 lockdown, learning to use new digital design and construction tools. The result is “Block West”, a temporary pavilion that showcases adaptable building systems and people-friendly technology that can help communities collaborate to create the spaces, homes, and places they need. [embed]https://vimeo.com/458752004[/embed] Block West is made from a modular building system - called Block Type A -...
Making Together is a collaboration with Automated Architecture, funded by Transforming Construction Network Plus.
Find out more about our work in community-led construction and the We Can Make housing initiative.
Photos by Ibolya Feher
Illustrations by Jasmine Thompson