Why do people run out of a building when a quake happens?

Because it’s not the quake that kills them; it’s the building. Why do we make unsafe buildings? Don’t we learn anything from nature that has produced excellent examples of perfect shelters?

One of Prof. Bando’s presentation slides, showing viruses, ‘sheltered’ by their forms

These questions were often heard recently at our department, Industrial Design at ITB, during lectures by Professor Takaaki Bando, from Science of Design Department, Musashino Art University, Tokyo, who has been staying for almost one year in Bandung. His passion toward biomimicry, Buckminster Fuller’s concepts, bamboo and structures is obvious from his energy during the presentations. Now that his one-year period at ITB is almost up, as a closure Prof. Bando conducts a Bamboo Shelter Project. He’ll deliver an open lecture concerning this project so, comprehensive explanations should come from him, but as far as I know, this project is a realization of a shelter concept that is save for people living in it during quakes, flood, and such. The form is obviously a slight modification of a Bucky Ball, which is strongly inspired by structures of virus molecules and the form of Apollo 11 that landed the first human on the moon in 1969 (Prof. Bando has also delivered a lecture concerning interconnected inspirations within the history of great designs).

Detail of the structure’s joint system

This project involves not only students from Industrial Design department, but also from other departments in ITB such as Architecture, Interior Design, Visual Art, Aerospace Engineering, and Civil Engineering.

The realization itself is not without challenge. First, it was the supply of material – in less than one week, around 800 sliced bamboo had to be provided, cut according to the precise, required measurements. A number of requirements had to be compromised, among others concerning the bamboo slices: initially, the skin of the bamboo should still be intact, which was not possible considering the amount of wasted slices that would be generated while lots of slices are needed. This skinless-bamboo condition might affect the strength of the structure, but we’ll never know for sure until we try it full scale. All other flaws, especially the detailed, technical ones that are happening during the building process, are not ones that can’t be solved, and they added to the valuable experience.

How the shelter looked on Day-3: still completing the ball shape, before inserting the platform (support) into the ball

Although not fully equipped with ‘real’ dwelling facilities, this bamboo structure serves as a model of a safe shelter. As Prof. Bando mentioned in one of his lectures, “Design does not explain how society is, but how it can be”. This bamboo shelter is surely the beginning of a process in discovering how humanity may thrive and cope with extreme global changes. So- let’s discuss some more: you’re all welcome to attend Prof. Bando’s lecture on Monday, 26 March 2012 at FSRD ITB!

 

Reclaim the Street; Eat!

KEUKEN logo

This probably won’t happen in a city where safe and comfortable public spaces are available, where people can leisurely go out and enjoy the space. This probably won’t happen either in a place where rules are applied strictly, when a bit of disorder could quickly gain onlookers’ frowns or, worse, get a penalty by local law enforcers. This will not happen also in a dense urban area whose young inhabitants have no passion, nor creativity, to improve their urban environment in a fun and smart way. But, since Bandung is a city where comfortable public space and strict rules are absent and whose youths are passionate, KEUKEN happens!

Saparua Street, closed from motored vehicles for KEUKEN#2

KEUKEN, a Dutch word for “kitchen”, is a festival involving lots of (of course) food and cooking, but not only that. All kinds of urban communities gather along to enjoy an unusual ambiance of a pleasant public space. So far, KEUKEN has gone through their second festival, but in between, they also have a series of smaller events that serve as a kind of ‘teaser’ for the KEUKEN festival, called Surprise Stove.

In Surprise Stove, a public space is chosen, a set of stoves and cooking tools are brought over, then someone (not necessarily a professional) chef voluntarily cook and distribute the cooked food to passers by. All in a go. No permit gained prior to the event, then pack up and leave right after all the food is emptied out of the plates.

Cooking demo is among the main attractions of the event

Before the first festival, Surprise Stove was held for six times in different spots in Bandung. Among them were a huge intersection where extreme bike and soccer communities gather, an old part of town where a Harley Davidson headquarter resides (one of their members was the chef of the day), a busy shopping street, and a parcel of land used by urban farming community on a harvesting day (the veggies were cooked right after they were freshly picked!).

What is the purpose of this anarchy? The main aim is, as the catch phrase shows, to “reclaim the street”. Lack of adequate public space in the city to socialize and to express oneself becomes the main motivation. Why food? Since it’s easily the easiest thing that we, fellow human beings, have in common. We all eat. We all like to talk about food and eating activity also usually triggers conversations. Through food and cooking in a public space, warm interactions occur. People can feel that they belong to the urban open space again, that the space is actually theirs to activate, and that it is what makes a city pleasantly livable.

The ambiance of KEUKEN#2

KEUKEN #1: The Magnificent Cowbarn (Official video) from Keuken Bandung on Vimeo.

More about KEUKEN, who stands behind it and all, is currently being written as a paper for a conference. For now, please check out their website at http://keukenbdg.com/ and more of their videos at http://vimeo.com/keukenbdg