Student Group helps us Test, Cook & Serve

We are very pleased that four architecture students from UWE in Bristol are getting involved with our project. The group of four postgraduate students - Sammy, Verity, Matt and Brad - will help us design a food and drink serving counter for the library.

Test Cook Serve Team

We want something that could be moved around the building and even taken outside. They have until November 16th to develop and produce their ideas and you will first have the chance to meet them at Library soup event from 4pm on Wednesday 25th October. This blog article gives some background on what they are doing and why it is valuable to our work and also for their learning.


A slow-cook approach to architecture

As regular readers of this blog will appreciate, we are trying to take a different approach to architecture by testing ideas first and letting them grow slowly. A big part of this approach is working with a group of students on catering options for the library. We hope that they can learn a lot from this live project and we are certainly sure that we gain a lot from them.

The idea for a catering outlet has been obvious right from the time when the buiding was taken over from the Council. Apart from pre-wrapped things like biscuits we do not yet have the facilities to make food which can be sold. And even with our backroom kitchen, show in plans for the first phase of work to the building, there is not an obvious space for selling food and drink in such a small building.

After Maggie and Kim started speaking to people this autumn we decided to try something that can be moved from the kitchen into the main room and even outside. A brief was written by architect George Lovesmith for a design and research project. As George teaches part time at UWE he was able to circulate it to the right people and now we have the energetic and committed team of Sammy, Matt, Verity and Brad on board.


Working very hard already

The student group first came to the library on Monday 16th October, where they met a group of volunteers and David Henshall [a product designer who presented at September's New Paths Gathering]. We worked through the brief and each got an idea of what could be done in the time that they have.

By the time they came back a week later they had exceeded all expectations: we were particularly impressed with the market research into local cafe and food provision. The image below is a brief indication of how many places there are on Chepstow Road and within wider Maindee. The start of a larger analysis is in the full document available here on our website.

Test Cook Serve Market Research


What are we looking to make?

The type of catering unit that can be produced is dictated by the size of the building and human factors such as how much weight people can lift and move. We want it to be stored in the kitchen base area when it is loaded up / cleaned. The size of the room and door widths mean that the unit must be up to 0.9m high and up to 0.6m wide and 1.4m long.

The initial idea is that unit could have three surfaces on the top: a sink; a hob and maybe somewhere to wash dishes. At the moment the group are researching ideas to split the whole thing into two separate pieces: one could be 1/3 of the whole and the other piece 2/3. There is also potential to split the whole thing into three separate items. Some cardboard models are shown below.

 Test Cook Serve Boxes

As the project develops we will see how to organise electricity supplies to the catering unit and how to connect things like a supply of water. The guidance from experienced Product Design David Henshall, who used to teach at UWE and is now based in Newport, is helping the group to consider things like wheels and places to get bits of their design produced. 


Where would the unit be used?

We are hoping that the catering unit could also be used outside, such as for the Maindee Christmas event this December or on the Triangle site opposite us. The team have therefore been looking at how there could be some covers or awnings, such as below.

 Test Cook Serve Drawings


On Wednesday 25th October from 4pm we get a chance to experience and scale model; so to work out how much the unit would weigh and how big it would be. The group will be very intersted to hear ideas as we share some soup in the library - book a place online here.

Thanks to David Henshall and Trish Johns for the guidance and to George for making the link. We will be keeping you updated with the design ideas on our Instagram page 

Related Links

The work so far from Test, Cook and Serve

Free soup event from 4pm Weds 25th October

Added November 2017 Project Final Presentation

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