Chair bombing (châr boming) verb. The act of placing homemade seating in public spaces in order to improve comfort, social activity and sense of place. So says the Brooklyn collective Do: Tank which created Adirondack chairs out of discarded shipping pallets and peppered them around New York, guerilla style.
Vancouver artists Corrina Suveges, Romney Shipway, Charlotte Kennedy and Otilia Spantulescu had the same thing in mind when they started building their six-foot bench called The Stoop late last year. The group was motivated by a plank, so to speak, in Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan. One of the Plan’s goals is a ban on wood waste by 2015. Unlike Do: Tank, these armchair revolutionaries had City Hall on its side through its green urban design incubator City Studio.
At the moment 22% of Vancouver landfill comes from the construction and demolition sector and over half of that is wood waste. Vancouver would like to build a deconstruction hub, a site where waste materials could be dropped off, sorted and processed for re-sale to upcyclers but that’s in the future. The team carried out the project on their own to prove designers can make a product out of discarded materials if they put their mind to it. They also wanted to provide a mobile public space, a piece of furniture that would invite people to sit down and rest.
They went to a demolition site. It wasn’t pretty. Their source material, discarded framing that the salvagers didn’t want, was covered in cement, gypsum and paint. It was also lacerated with nails which had oxidized and were difficult to extract, forcing the artists to cut the planks into smaller pieces for assembly. In all, they utilized 60% of their source material which would have normally gone to the landfill.
They decided on a simple design, six feet of finger-jointed and laminated wood punctuated with two vertical protrusions or shelves. The shelves are on rails and can be pulled together or pulled apart. They called it The Stoop after those old-fashioned porches where family members could talk to their neighbours or each other. Or as the team puts it, “where the private and public spaces meet.”
The Stoop is currently being circulated around Vancouver’s public spaces. It currently sits outside a mid-town coffee shop where customers use the shelf to hold their beverages.
“We weren’t sure how it was going to be used,” said a staffer at the coffee house, unsure about how customers would react but eager to give chair bombing a try. When we popped in to take pictures it looked like the clientèle has figured it out just fine.
Featured Image & Image Above © John Thomson