24 June 2019

Design and make with TRADA member Anglia Ruskin University

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Joining TRADA as a full academic member enabled Professor Maria Vogiatzaki to realise a full design and make at 1:1 project when she swept into Anglia Ruskin to develop the Architecture and Architectural Technology degrees. With a passion for education through making, Maria challenged the first year students to design and detail timber pavilions – with the winning design to be specified and built for the end of year show.


When universities become full TRADA academic members, they receive multiple benefits and Anglia Ruskin took full advantage. Tabitha Binding, TRADA’s UEP manager, provided lectures, information, guidance, practical support and brought in timber sponsors with the help of EATTA chairman Chris James. The timber based materials were consequently provided by sponsors UPM, Meyer Timber and Hoppings Softwood Products, while the CNC machining was provided by sponsor Grymsdyke Farm.


Two pavilions were shortlisted, with students and staff voting for the eventual winner. Students from both design teams collaborated on the technical design to refine it and make it buildable, while staff from across the campus provided support, with the metal workshop fabricating the brackets. Richard Longstaff, the Architectural Technology course coordinator, offered his advice throughout the project and Reuben Brambleby, who had benefitted from Teach the Teacher last year, provided the engineering calculations.


The six arches are each manufactured from 3 layers of UPM’s WISA 18mm plywood and were delivered by Meyer Timber to Grymsdyke Farm – a research facility, fabrication workshop and living-working space for architects, artists and designers, which is run by Guan Lee. Guan kindly donated his time and the CNC machining service, giving the students a masterclass in software interaction with hardware and the importance of checking designs, tool paths, cutting and fit.


The student design required lathes for the pavilion roof, not an off the peg item, which weren’t easy to source as – at 100mm wide, 6mm thick and 4.5 metres long – superior sawing accuracy is required. Charles, Adam and John at Hoppings Softwood Products took on the job, donating redwood re-sawn from 25mm thick stock. The design students could not resist the allure of black timber and so chose to char the lathes – a nod towards Yakisugi.


The build took place during the first week of June and was officially opened as planned on 13 June at Anglia Ruskin’s Summer Exhibition.



Maria Vogiatzaki said: 'We could not have achieved this without Tabitha’s input. Her knowledge, passion and drive to help us when problems appeared insurmountable enabled our very first build to take place. Every student in this year’s cohort has learnt so much and now appreciate that lines on paper and words on specifications without hands-on experience of the products and construction methods will cause untold problems.


'The students that volunteered to see the pavilion through to the end result, as in life, learnt more. This was the ultimate simulation of and exposure to reality at a student’s infancy stage of studying architecture and architectural technology.'


Tabitha Binding responded: 'Universities are not teaching timber as a material, while design and make at full scale is rare. Without this knowledge and experience, how can we expect our future professionals to create good timber buildings? TRADA’s aim is to change this.


'Working with educators like Maria – who want their students to understand design and building holistically through making – is a joy. The enthusiasm is infectious with students and staff working in their free time to cut, fabricate and build the fantastic pavilion.


'This was a collaborative process which could not have been done without Chris at EATTA, Dave and Andy at Meyer Timber, Joan at UPM, Charles, Adam and John at Hopping Softwoods and Guan at Grymsdyke Farm donating materials, machining facilities, time and prizes to the project – thank you for supporting, educating and believing in our next generation of professionals.'


Interested in getting involved with our University Engagement Programme? Contact Tabitha Binding on tbinding@trada.co.uk