December 4, 2012


A curricula and resources for the Bronx River Art Center. BRAC is an organization in the central south Bx–the poorest congressional district in the entire country, actually–that does artsled urban regeneration. And provides the only art/technology classes for many students. This uses sketchchair to provide a multimodal introduction to programming.
In the Endowed Chair project you make, design and fabricate your own chair. We start by reviewing a curated set of chairs designed for CNC fabrication by local and international designers, Systems Architects for instance. We introduce the designers larger body of work (in this case the MOMA Home Delivery exhibition) and the benefits of computer-based fabrication–why it is favored for relief work; the network of fablabs;. and why/how it matters if it is open source.
Select and adapt any of the designs to produce your own chair from these exemplars. You decide the scale, can add a minor feature, a book ledge or do substantially redesign of the form.
SketchChair provides some structural analysis and supports algorithmically driven layout for efficient material use. Then print it out in paper/card at scale and assemble, and test and adapt. And eventually send it to a shopbot where it is “printed” in plywood. Then assemble the real thing, and have a chair to keep.
The Endowed part is that every downtown chair funds the same process for a Bx-based BRAC student to design and produce their own chair too. Shopbot CNC facilities are at BRAC–where assembly will take place, and comparison and discussion between the students-designers.
The Bronx is an important place to do the fabrication bc the largest lumber supplier is there and because this explores the social justice issue of being the distribution doormat for Manhattan and beyond, i.e. the tangle of Robert Moses freeways that produces an asthma epidemic (no school is more then a block or two from a major arterial road). We explore how creative industry and open source technology can reinvent manufacturing and develop local opportunities. Finally, BRAC is developing a BioChar waste-to-energy enterprise (BioChar CHA) that uses the plywood offcuts to produce biochar for community gardens, and provides an end-of-life plan for the furniture produced. The BioChar sequesters the carbon involved for a good 5000 years or so.
In sum, the idea is that this introduces programming and computer enabled real world production in the context of how we use these opportunities to address the social and environmental design challenges of the C21st; how we re-imagine manufacturing; what an open source local flat-packing version of IKEA might be like. We introduce life cycle analysis; the connections between environmental and human health, and the interconnected social justice and technical systems context.

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