Bamboo TV

October 14, 2013. By dk. 1 comment(s).

Television is a word invented at the turn of the 20th century, to describe the (then) emergent phenomena of transmitted and projected electronic audio and visual displays. Technically, it means:

"an electronic system of transmitting transient images of fixed or moving objects together with sound over a wire or through space by apparatus that converts light and sound into electrical waves and reconverts them into visible light rays and audible sound" (

Part of the thinking behind the bamboo "TV" that we built for Sir Black and Martin William's Otublohum Urban Living Room installation at this year's Chale Wote festival was to get Jamestown's young people outside in the open air and expose them to the sounds, images and ideas of their own culture and community  not just the over-commercialized global pop narrative that emanates from the electronic televisions in their actual living rooms, and increasingly, everywhere in the city.

(In the future, we will all have tele-vision.)

Design233 posted a nice roundup of Chale Wote 2013, an amazing festival to celebrate Jamestown, reclaim public space through the arts and re-imagine the city. Community planner and urbanist Victoria Okoye considered this year's event in the context of public space on Urban Africa, as well as wrote up the pocket park project done with Ghana Urban Platform. Accra [dot] Alt, the group behind the initiative, now in it's third year — the only independently produced arts festival in West Africa — also uploaded a great video of the sights and sounds "in reverse".

We spent a week in Otublohum Square, at the intersection of Accra's High Street and Brazil Lane, which leads to Brazil House. It was an unforgettable experience to meet so many people in the community and learn so much about Jamestown and it's history (not to mention building bamboo trusses!). The budget was only GHC 400 (USD 200); hopefully next year we can find a bigger pot, and do more to rehabilitate this important piece of Accra's urban heritage. Here are a few pics of the buildout (more on Facebook):

And a fantastic performance by New Morning Cafe, in which through dancing, drumming and narration in the local dialect they re-interpreted folk icons of the goddesses of Air, Water, Earth and Mami Wata to explain to children the importance of nature and the inter-relationship of the environment and their actions:

Thanks to all the makers who helped build the bamboo TV and the urban living room at Otublohum! And check out the #Accratopia project that Hassan Salih and crew are working on: to transcend the negativity and imagine a utopian future for Accra in 2050. This was hugely well-received at Chale Wote: even the youngest could understand the message. All of which speaks to the power of images...

After the festival, the bamboo structure was disassembled and transported to Berekuso Hill Station, where it will find new life in the on-going #bambot (bamboo robot) experiments. And in case you want to build your own "bamboo TV" stage:

Lo-fi #bambots for Chale Wote festival

August 30, 2013. By dk. 0 comment(s).


Concept design in Dripping Springs

August 19, 2013. By Ryan. 0 comment(s).

We've got a number of projects on the boards right now-- this is a guest house and main house in Dripping Springs, TX all connectected under one roof. We are considering a variety of facade concepts.



New Office Location

June 24, 2013. By Ryan. 0 comment(s).

It may sound crazy, but we now have offices in 3 different cities-- we recently set up shop full time in San Antonio. We're renovating a space originally built in 1900 so there is lots to do and will probably happen slowly. We'll keep you posted along the way!

Recycled tire launch pad

May 29, 2013. By dk. 0 comment(s).

We started building the launch pad at Berekuso Hill Station out of 2000 recycled tires, inspired by the work of one of our favorite people Teddy Cruz in Tijuana/San Diego (see: manufactured sites). We are using lateritic pea gravel as infill, with watering to settle aggregate (the rains are helping now too!) We are also not making figure-8 tessellation (3D stacking) like Estudio Teddy Cruz did (we tried that on another brekstat site: too labour/time-intensive to join through tire treads, i.e. mechanical connection to retain the figure-8 deformation). Simply cut, turn inside out, fill with gravel, water, stack.

Simple, but not easy. Lessons learned so far:

  • don't use heavy duty reinforced tires (the steel wire gauge is too big for easy cutting)
  • if you have trouble cutting the side wall, offset knife blade by several inches (sometimes reinforcement wraps from outer ring of tread slightly onto face of side wall)
  • use water to assist with cutting (poke a hole in the top of a plastic water bottle) - this introduces friction between the metal knife blade and the rubber molecules, making your slice more effective (thanks to Kay for that!)
  • better to keep lots of blades on hand (sharpen them all before you start, then you don't have to stop to resharpen; a sharp knife can handle 10-20 tires depending on how strong the metal alloy of the blade is)
  • push down on the side wall as you cut (if you lay the tire flat on the ground, this pulls the rubber off the blade as you cut deeper into the side wall)
  • turning the tire inside out feels amazing after you saw off the side walls. cutting ten before you turn them inside out is even better

View point triangulates Nsawam, Aburi and Ashesi University toward Berekuso. Construction for view platform and brekship1 (concept images in AMP post).