Planning of Collaborative Carpentry Workshop


The Collaborative Carpentry workshop is an interface to understand how knowledge cycles can be developed between different groups. In this case, it is between Civic University Live Project and the general public. It is an opportunity to consider how to collaborate with non-experts in certain fields: the designing of a piece of multipurpose module/ furniture, in this particular workshop.

Based on our experience with the various master:CLASSES that have been organised, such as ‘how do You tie your shoelaces?!’ and ‘Language Exchange’, it became clear that everyone possesses skills and knowledge that can be taught or transferred to others. Hence, there was an expectation that the masters would learn something from the people who attend the workshops as the belief is that they would have skills that are valuable to the workshop, although they may not be directly related to the process of designing a piece of carpentry.

The objective of the workshop is to provoke the two-way learning process between the masters and the class through a collaborative task. The experience that the two-way learning process will allow throughout the workshop could provide an opportunity for the group to rethink their approach to design of the future. The group will learn from people that are not designers and look forward to how the interactive process will inform the approach in future designs. It was also anticipated that the output of the workshop could also feed into the design process of creating a piece of modular furniture that can act as an interface to provide facilities for exhibitions and master:CLASSES.



Deciding the venue:

To run the collaborative workshop, a venue where general public frequently visit is essential. Foodhall was selected, which is open to the public on Thursday, Friday and Saturday every week. Two weeks before the workshop, the group volunteered at Foodhall to orientate and promote the upcoming workshop to the visitors. Taking the opportunity to observe the space and the atmosphere of Foodhall, so that it was possible to plan the workshop space in advance; i.e. where to set up the projectors, table, etc.  

Assigning Roles:

As a group, it was discussed that all facilitators should have specific roles during the workshop. However, it was agreed that every person should engage with the visitors and involve themselves with the collaborative process. Therefore, distinct roles have not been assigned, other than the photographer/videographer who will record the whole collaborative process. Not everyone in the group will be required to join the workshop on each day, as some of the workforce will be redundant, hindering the progress of other ongoing tasks. Every group member’s availability over the three days was confirmed to ensure those who are assigned to be involved in the workshop on each specific day would be available.

Initial Idea for engagement with the public:

Prior to the workshop, the group discussed the possible output and expectations of the workshop. A subgroup of two members specifically looked into the type of furniture or modular elements that would be able to be produced within the period of three days. It is planned that the group design a number of options of modular furniture to provoke conversation with the public for their input of ideas. The research findings and initial design proposals will be compiled. They will act as a medium to engage with the public, presenting ideas and drawings for further feedback and ideas from the public within a collaborative design cycle.

Sourcing of materials:

In this collaborative workshop, it was necessary to be aware that the general public, who will be involved in the workshop, may want to produce more of the modules that are constructed during the workshop. Therefore, the material for construction must be easily available and cheap. The group started to look at places that provided unwanted or recycled material for free. Through researching on the internet and discussing with colleagues and friends, a few potential sites for sourcing materials were identified. The availability of material was investigated by visiting the sites in person and sending emails. Materials were collected in the evening so that it would not hinder the relatively compact schedule.

Setting up equipment:

Electronic equipment such as DSLR cameras and projectors have been borrowed from the Sheffield School of Architecture in advance. On the first day of workshop, the group will arrive at Foodhall early in the morning to set up the space before the visitors come. The person who will be in charge of video and photography will take the responsibility to decide the best position to capture the space. The rest of the group will set up the space with tables and benches. A survey, set up on an iPad app, will be used for visitors to provide feedback on the final day of workshop.

The Schedule:

The Collaborative Carpentry workshop is planned to be three days long. There are expected outputs from each day to ensure that the workshop proceeds smoothly. The first day will be about engaging with the visitors at Foodhall and inviting them to join the collaborative workshop over the next two days, as well as collecting ideas on the design of the carpentry. The second day is planned to a day of prototyping were the group sit down with visitors for discussions, creating new designs and building small scale prototype models based on the output from our collaboration with visitors, the day before. The third day will be the most intense day as the decision of what design to proceed with will have to made. 1:1 scale prototype is planned to be built on this day using common tools and material sourced locally from waste material. The constructed prototype would then be displayed in Foodhall as proof of our collaboration with visitors of Foodhall.

Foodhall welcomes visitors from 10pm to 3am. The workshop will run in parallel with Foodhall’s normal schedule. The team will arrive at Foodhall half an hour in advance of opening on all three days. A reflective session will be held at the end of each day to reflect on the progress as well as to inform the other group members who were not in the workshop. This will consist of a briefing of the day’s tasks and a detailed schedule for the next day.


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