In 2009, I came together with a group of passionate designers/professionals in Atlanta and we re-formed the Architecture for Humanity Atlanta Chapter [AFHA]. Our first project out of the gate was a Floating Clinic aimed to provide informal settlements with a local medical clinic and community center. We successfully launched the project in mid 2009, and it has provided hundereds of medical procedures to folks who would otherwise not have access to such. The project has taken on its own wings and recently has become a stand alone 501C3 organization and continues under the name Hope Builds. AFHA has continued strong since 2009 with great projects like:
Oasis Project –Design and construction of bus shelter in neighborhoods underserved by MARTA.
English Avenue Community Center – Community partnership with the Greater Vine City Opportunities Program to renovate the English Avenue Elementary School into a Community Center.
Band Director Observation Tower Boy Sout Troop 400 out of Richmond Hill, GA requested assists in developing permit drawings for an Eagle Candidate’s Eagle Project.
Atlanta Beltline Monthly CleanUp – Monthly gathering of cleanup and beautification of our adoption section.
So this is my second year that I decided to accept the challenge of creating a birdhouse to be auctioned off at the Social, even though it is the 4th year AFHA has hosted the event. Maybe I was shy the first two years, or just skeptical about birds ~ who knows? It is a lot of work to build a custom birdhouse. Anyone who is a designer is a bit particular about how we represent ourself or our brand, so when you do something you want it to turn out extraordinary. Also, after several years of watching others do it, I knew I could create something worthwhile as well. It seems if your heart is in the right place, anything is possible!
I started off with a sketch concept. The idea was to celebrate the circle and the cyclinder, and use the dynamic relationship that these geometries create as a focus of the design theme. Last year I went rectangular in shape, so I wanted a nice contrast as well. In addition, I wanted to accept ALL the design criteria that I had last year that qualified my design as “Sustainable”, yet push the sculpture part of the concept a bit further while cutting back on time and materials. Was this possible? I didn’t know, but I like a good challenge!
Design Criteria: safe, non-toxic, durable, purpose driven, composed of reclaimed materials + dynamic scultpure
After the initial sketch and design criteria were laid out, I went about town trying to find some reclaimed materials. I knew what I wanted, now I had to find it. This is the hardest part of the process, because you never know what, where, or how you will find things.
I started at the local dumpster like any good salvage-hunter. Then, I went to several antique and thrift shops. At one of the shops I found a wooden vase that had similar geometry to what I was looking for, but not exactly. It was a bit big and somewhat tapered. I bought it anyways, and decided to make it work. Next, I continued on to several other second hand shops. After I exhausted the second-hand shops on Day 1, I went to the Big Box stores: Wal-Mart, Lowes, Big Lots, Family Dollar, and some others. Finally I went home after a full day of searching. I was a bit dishearted, but knew I had the whole next day.
The next day, I again hunted for salvaged materials. I visited garage sales, and checked every other shop I could find, including Bed Bath & Beyond for the missing component: a round tin drum for the face. After a second day of hunting was exhausted, and with 5 mins left for the Goodwill to close, I made a purchase of the second component, an aluminium cake pan. It had more detail than I desired, but had asimilar geometrical shape to what I was envsioning. Afterwards, on the way home, I stopped by Lowes and bought some high quality stainless steel screws. My day of salvage searching had come to a close. I wasn’t happy when I got home, in fact I was a bit depressed that I couldnt find exactly what I was looking for and time was running out to work on the project. In fact I had other paying projects I was trying to balance as well.
My soul was low, and I was thinking I just wouldn’t make it this year. I’d use the vase for some newspapers in the bathroom, and make a cake with the newly aquired pan. I am never happy when I am not able to see my visions realized. I felt bad about the potential of letting my organization down. I sulked for a bit, and then saw that other folks, friends of mine were completeing their birdhouses. One by one, photos of their completed projects would pop-up on the Social Media feeds.
“I can do that,” I said after seeing a few images. “Wow, thats neat,” I said after seeing a few others. “I am just gonna have to make it happen,” I finally decided by the end of the evening……. but how?
I had found my inspiration again in seeing others finish their projects. Like all good designers, I now knew it was time to go back to the drawing board and make things work. I stared with what I liked and remembered a few keys to acheiving a unified design: “simplification, alternation, repetition.” I love the vase. It is warm, friendly, and made of wood, it has black bands in the surface pattern, so it was a keeper. I like the simple circular geometry of the cake pan, so it stays as well. I needed a way to tie them together. Then it hit me, of course, paint the cake pan and tin can black, and let the colors all work together. How simple, how appropriate. So, thats what I did.
I also coated the wood vase with 2 coats of marine grade varnish, to weatherize, protect, and prolong the lifespan of the birdhouse. It was a good idea, because I worried about the item falling apart after a good Georgia rainstorm. I then drilled three large holes in the center unit for drainage, and two small holes in the top to mount the eye hooks for hanging purposes once completed.
I sprayed the Cake Pan, and Tin can with several coats of gloss black anti-rust paint. I also sprayed all the hardware to make sure things matched. Once dry, I assembled the components.
It went together rather well, and extremely quickly (after being predrilled and fitted). I am pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Now, it is time to bring it to the Social, and see what the public thinks. Im hoping to raise funds for some great projects as the AFHA organization continues to serve the local community.
See you at the Birdhouse Social on Saturday, August 18, 2012 from 4pm-8pm at Studioplex Lofts (659 Auburn Ave, Atlanta GA 30312)
Read this and other ECO-Blogs at: http://andrewtelker.blogspot.com/
Remeber to do your best in whatever you do. Sometimes we inspire others through our actions. Sometimes I inspire, at other times I am inspired!
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