Sheepfold - Blaricum

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For one course during the second year we had a real client. Our client, Goois Natuur Reservaat has asked us to re-design a particular area of their sheepfold. This included thinking of a way to facilitate the visitors on one of the many events that take place in this area, by the means of a new bench, seating space plus a podium for events and a sort of market stall.

I made it my quest to find a way of creating these things, using just one element that has multiple functions and applications. I wanted it to be a useful solution that, besides being fun, is also nice to see and functional.

The Sheepfold is a kind of shed where sheep are being held. There is a group of special breed of sheep held here and they roam the meadow in Blaricum to keep the area in good health. The sheep eat the plants and fertilize the soil with their excrements. They have many festivals including a sheepshaving festival where children are allowed to partially shave a sheep and they can buy the wool afterwards for just a small amount of money.

The area has a great deal of unique features, not only the sheep and the sheepfold itself, but also a rich history ranging from druids a thousand years ago, performing ceremonies on the ‘Tafelberg’, till painters from the middle-ages through the golden age till now, collecting the beautiful scenery on their canvases.

The events held there in our current place in time, are there to gather people in the same spot they have been coming for hundreds or years. Whether it’s offering ceremonies or just simple strolls through ‘nature’, it is a place for people.

I have created a modular object, which can be referred to as a chair or seat. But, a few seats combined together, creates a bench. The seat is created in such a way that when it is not in use, it is folded out flat like a plate and can easily be stored this way. Other functions are a podium and a dome-like structure. When folded out, the plates can be connected to each other and form part of a domelike shape that functions as a roof.

By photographic explorations of the nature around the sheepfold and later in another forest as a comparison, I had learned that the way how people treat furniture in the outside, has a lot to do with doing things by yourself. People created places to sit with whatever is available around.

I also discovered that there are a lot of natural rocks laying around everywhere, apparently these rocks were scattered around by the ice in the ice age.
So I took a step back to the sheepfold, took my discoveries and applied them to the way I want people to use their furniture there.

The idea is that visitors during an event and on sundays, can grab their own modular object from a storage area, put it together, and decide where to sit. Obviously they would need some help or instructions, but after that, can help others by explaining how the modules work.

The seats are like the natural rocks, being scattered on the terrain of the sheepfold, by the people that decide where they place their seats. The visitors have the freedom to decide where they want to sit, but the seats can also be placed in advance of an event in a designated area.

The pieces of furniture will be stored inside a few pieces that are exactly twice as big, a domelike structure that catches the visitors eye, which can be locked up with one lock. The shape of the structure is very strong and safe this way.

All of the modules together will give the terrain a unique character which contrasts with the environment, but at the same time reflects it’s surroundings.

During this course I have learned how to research an area, it’s geographical whereabouts, it’s surroundings, it’s history. In this research period we have discussed the assignment, we spoke about our doubts, and questioned the assignment together. This developed our critical judgement.

Afterwards during the design part of this course I learned a bit how to deal with ‘thinking’ too much, and just start doing more. Eventually I just started research outside and this really helped develop my concept. I discovered something I wasn’t specifically looking for and took this discovery and turned it into a better concept.

I also had the aid of my (self-built) 3D-printer, which I can advise anyone to invest some time into. It can help you create a quick small model to hold in your hand and you can create scale people to create the sense of scale with ease. This way you have more time to work on your idea and concept.

During my progress I had found out I was too satisfied sometimes, so I learned to give up my initial design under the cliché term ‘Kill your Darlings’ and improve a lot on my initial idea. Sometimes all it takes is a change of direction, to get out of the ‘thinking frame’ you’re stuck in.

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