Week 8: The Jig!

Goal: 6 Full Greenhouse Frames

This week we were in the shop full time. Cutting, grinding, welding, and drilling.  We set up an assembly system where parts were being cut, then passed off to be grinded, then drilled, then welded.  With lots of great teamwork and our wonderful jig (no, not the dance), we were finally able to put together a full greenhouse frame. The new frame is solid, strong, and could probably also be a really good jungle gym.

We also explored other greenhouse options. With the concept of an XS, S, M, L, XL:

XS – Single sprout – the basic unit

S – Multiple sprout – greenhouse booths

M – Mobile sprout – a greenhouse on wheels

L – Freestanding sprout -sprouthouse components providing the frame for a larger greenhouse

XL – Supersize sprout – an even larger greenhouse made up of sprouthouse components

With one frame fully realized, we’re moving forward our goal of six frames. Next week we’re going to be looking into cladding and prepping the frames for powdercoating. Stay tuned!


Week 7: Into the Shop

With the schematic of a final design in hand, this week we finally headed into the shop to start building. We kicked things off Monday with a shop tour and student demonstrations of cutting, grinding and welding metal. Wednesday and Friday we were aided by some rare Seattle Sunshine as we began to assemble our first two greenhouse boxes. Teams of students rotated into different positions to give people the chance to learn new skills.

We started by working out our system of assembling the sides of our frame. Several steps have to be completed to create one side frame: rough-cutting the parts, then cutting them to a final exact size and angle, doing a test fit, beveling edges in preparation for welding, welding, then grinding welds. We established a “master set” of parts to which we can compare pieces as we cut them. One team worked on putting together a jig which will allow us to build each side frame to the same specifications. By the end of the week, we had nearly completed two side frames to make one box, and had a good head start on the pieces for the next box.

Meanwhile, we continue to work out details of our design as we build, such as the final configuration of boxes on the building, box roof details, shelving details, polycarbonate attachment details, and box-to-building attachment details.

Week 6:Final Design comes into Focus

The first week of May had us focused on a final push toward a prototype design and a meeting to present that design to Meg, Ray and Mary from the board of the PDA.  Our initial focus was on further refining our systems research and collectively diagramming our structural detailing.  Sitting around a white board, we sketched and modeled numerous options and arrived at a fairly cohesive scheme.  On Wednesday, we all began cranking out small models so that we could begin to get a tangible feel for the scale and joinery of the structure.  We also used the models as an opportunity to work out a few different options for a larger, hinged opening that will act as a shaded portal for both the greenhouse and the existing building.
On Friday we met with the PDA and presented our latest Sprouthouse scheme to them.  We had a great dialogue and received some excellent feedback on the siting and overall function of our structure. The vision for the project became much clearer after our discussion and we began to see  it as both a prototype greenhouse and a multi-functional installation space.  We’ll be refining the design a bit further before staring our full scale prototyping next week!

Week 5: The Sprouthouse takes seed…

The week began with an intense meeting in which we narrowed our focus and began to think about the details and construction of the proposed greenhouse, a.k.a. the ‘Sprouthouse.’  Our week’s momentum was anticipating the comprehensive presentation of our concept to show Ray and the rest of the PDA on Friday.  On Wednesday, we broke up into teams to think about specific ideas such as water catchment, cladding possibilities, construction details, and other aspects of the design.  Although we were focusing on details, we were also trying to keep in mind the larger principles which had shaped our thinking from the beginning:  creating an adaptable, educational, welcoming, and visible design.

After Wednesday’s class session, we went into full production mode.  Still different teams were formed, each concentrating on a different aspect of the presentation: drawings, renderings, diagrams, text, and physical models.  By Friday we had produced a beautiful and useful presentation of our idea- but plenty of work remains to be done.  Stay tuned for more!

Week 4: Just another day with the Johnstons!

review with the Johnston'sAfter Week 3 we burned all our creative juice to have a full presentation ready on Monday to review with Ray and Mary Johnston. The class trekked down the Burke-Gilman trail to the Johnston’s office on Lake Union. In their conference room, all 5 groups pinned up their boards and things got serious. We looked critically at all the different strategies to find the advantages that would meet our goal to design a high performance greenhouse.

When we finished presenting each scheme, the discussion that followed was to somehow take the strategies that performed the best and go HYBRID! We concluded with three hybridized schemes:

  1. MOTHERSHIP – freestanding greenhouse, station for mobile pods.
  2. PARASITES – adaptive structure that grows off of an existing shed on site.
  3. SATELLITE – independent or dependent mobile pods.

These schemes probably won’t all be built, but the intention is that we will build just a section this quarter,  giving Twisp the plans for a complete system that they can grow later. In all, our discussion concluded with a more focused goal of a system that could be either mobile, seasonally adaptive to multi-use, mass produced for revenue, and meeting the Living Building Challenge.

Wednesday, we gathered in studio to continue our design and discussion,  collaboratively bringing together our ideas and starting to get some heavy decisions made.  Oh boy, week 5 is going to be some intense collab/fab-ing. Stay tuned to hear what goes on next.  As Tim Gunn would say, we gotta “make it work!”

ALSO we got some other FAB design work done this week. We laser-cut a FAB- ulous silk-screen template for t-shirts.

Week 3: Teamwork!

After our first visit to Twisp, the class was thrilled to finally start developing strategies for the site.

We dedicated a full day to reflect on what we saw and the opportunities that we found. One of the most important things we talked about was the need for a design that could transform with the seasons and ongoing events, as the site developed. Overall, many ideas sprouted from this discussion and we were excited to explore them further.

Afterwards, we broke up into smaller teams to further explore these ideas. The rest of the week was quite intensive, with the goal of presenting to Ray and Mary Johnston by next Monday afternoon.

At the end of the week, we shared our designs, and gave each other comments and encouragement as we prepared for Monday. Overall, the designs were all very creative. They were a definite departure from your standard catalog greenhouse, and addressed the site in creative ways. Some of these included ideas for mobility, modularity, and water collection. With that said, we were now prepared to push these ideas further and looked forward to seeing the Johnston’s on Monday.

Weekend field trip: Twisp and Shout!

First day working on the PDA site.

With a warm welcome and many a curious eye, we finally made our way to Twisp.

It was a busy weekend of learning about all the hard work that has been laid out for our team to build upon.  In our spare time we worked independently researching at Hanks and the Branding Iron.   Saturday was filled with delicious taste testing at the Inn, undressing the southern shed on the PDA site, and learning expert advice about greenhouses.  We wrapped up the evening with a delicious family meal and what might have been the most beautifully backlit bonfire any of us have ever experienced.

Thank you Johnston’s!  And thanks to the good people of the Methow Valley Inn and the PDA and Bernie Hosey; we had such a hard time saying good-bye.

We’re back in Seattle and anxiously planning our next trip to the beautiful Methow Valley.

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