10_07_2010 logbook

Testing local materials and reviewing traditional construction techniques. Learning by doing. This is the starting point of Atelier Rwanda Workshop 2010.
We researched several themes as bamboo, earth building, construction, tamping, dye colors, textile and natural fibers.
The construction site started on May 17th with local workers who made the excavation and the foundation with concrete and than the students realized the bamboo structure based on the drawings made during the previous workshop in Venice. Building the structure lead us to rethink some of the original design solutions.
The side walls framework was tamped with the wattle daub infill technique , and the roof was covered with plastic sheets.
The wattle daub infill was suggested since it was present in the local buildings. The technique is based on a bamboo framework structure filled with a mixture of earth and urguiri (local grass).The framework was made using weaved bamboo surface. After building the first wall we decided to create the second wall framework with a more dense weaved structure.
The bamboo which was used for the structure was not properly treated due to time limits, therefore it got deteriorated.
Because of that we decided to use a lighter material as plastic sheet, instead of metal sheet used in Rwanda for most of the buildings’ roof.
During this last month of the workshop we’ll keep on experimenting with earth construction techniques and rendering of the walls.
We realized that the buildings made with earth are associated to poverty, therefore this technique is rejected by those who can afford concrete and brick housing.
We’ll work on improving the soil mixture combining it with natural fibers to increase its resistance to compression, and on the wall rendering in order to give a new look to the earth buildings.
We are planning to try different wall decoration, applying the Imigongo (Rwandan traditional decorative technique) on the inside walls,  and using wooden stamps, inspired by the same technique, on the outside walls.
At the same time a part of the students is developing design projects based on the research of natural fibers and textiles.
This project is dedicated to the local tourist market therefore we started by observing sales points, objects, design configuration, techniques and material choices offered by the different artisans.
The souvenirs in these tourist markets are a mix of imported merchandize and local artifacts and we soon realized that the local textile market is based on sewing technique of imported fabrics and there is no actual textile industry. Nevertheless we saw a big potential in working with textile since the techniques are relatively available and extremely creative.
we are currently researching natural dyeing processes and experimenting with local plants, flowers and other materials to extract colors from.
In the upcoming weeks we will refine our dyeing process, define the suitable ingredients and will explore ways to print on the textile.

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