Onion Collective CIC organised an extraordinary weekend in Watchet where Piers Taylor, Charley Brentnall and Marc Dix of LT Studio led a workshop to construct, with up to 50 local volunteers, a timber canopy and stage with a planted landscape that marked the reclaiming of the overgrown former pleasure gardens for community use.
The structure was made from a series of dry laminated green timber hoops that were bound together with jute rope and no mechanical fixings and few tools. These were bent into shape which effectively tightened the bindings, which will grow even stronger as the rope shrinks when wet and the timber seasons. Many of the volunteers were ‘unskilled’ in the formal sense – and the project is testament to the power of a community coming together to do something for itself.
The project is an example of what we mean by designing through making – the exact relationships of the components would have been impossible to predetermine, and could only be discovered through the collective endeavour of the volunteers taking part. This is largely the subject of Piers Taylor’s PhD which is (at present) titled ‘Contingent Negotiation’ and examines the discoveries that emerge when making is incorporated into the design process.