unwrapped and ready to fold

18.12.14 | engaging the community

Project Lacey Green

Over the course of the term I’ve been working with Hannah Ellis, a masters student on the RCA’s Visual Communication course who also works part time for the Sheffield-based design studio Dust. Hannah was one of a number of students who responded to a call for collaboration I sent out to the department at the start of the year; she will be developing the graphic design for the project including the book, whilst others students will be joining at a later stage to develop one-off pieces such as illustrations and animations of the building process, and photographs of the completed structure. The first printed item we have been working on is a leaflet to communicate the project to the local community, including parents at the school, as well as local manufacturers and other people who may be able to support us. The leaflet is an A3 sheet of recycled card, printed on both sides and folded in such a way that it will become the front cover of a set of A2 project drawings folded down to A4. We used the lithographic facilities at the RCA’s Battersea Campus to print the leaflets, and then had them couriered up to the farm, where they were folded one by one  – ready in time for the school’s Arabian Nights-inspired Christmas play: ‘A Lad In Lacey Green’ (!)

This was a perfect opportunity to engage with the parents, and invite them to a design presentation I’ll be doing in January. It was great to spend time at the school, and I ended up meeting a number of people who were keen to become involved. These included Jodie and Angus Sangster who are members of the Parents’ Association, and Peter Symons, an acoustic engineer and father of Zachary in Yr 3. Unlike our previous work in India, which was funded through financial donations from architecture firms and a large grant from the British Council, the aim with this project is to raise all the resources for construction through in-kind donations of time, materials and expertise. Peter is the Commercial Director of the company, and it transpired that he in fact worked with one of my tutors Satoshi, on dRMM’s Kingsdale Primary School. The specific product he would like to donate is Herra ceiling panels, which are 1800mm x 600mm boards of wood fibre strands bound with magnesite cement, meaning the product is totally compostable at the end of its life-span. It can come in any colour-specification, and a range of strand sizes, and can be cut or engraved on a CNC like any other sheet material such as MDF of plywood. Peter has offered to donate this product for the interior cladding of the structure, and also has a stock of black herra boards that were over-ordered for a project that he’s happy to provide now for any material tests that I might like to do.

A few days after the end of term, I received an email from Karina Thomas, a mother at the school, neighbour of Peter’s, RCA gradate, textile designer and senior lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University in the Textiles and Surface Design department. She is interested in running a project at the University based on the development of new ideas for acoustics and has offered her advice on the St. John’s project. In the meantime Fiona Insley, the school music teacher, has been reaching out to her contacts within the community and has secured interest in the project from Ruth Fenton, Sales Director of the local building supplies shop called Blanchford and Paul Elmidoro from Eland Steel in High Wycombe. Paul is part of the village choir, the Lacey Green Singers, another member of which, Ray Gosling, might be able to donate electrical equipment.

It’s amazing how quickly skills and resources emerge from within such a small community – I’m really looking forward to meeting more people and developing these relationships in the New Year!