Feature Member Project: studioCAMP’s ‘Bendch’

Every month, we feature a project created by a different Vancouver Tool Library member. This month, we’re talking to the folks at studioCAMP, who built an incredible public space project through the VIVA Vancouver program this summer. Their bending bench, or ‘Bendch’ as it was known, was a hit in various spaces around the city.

Tell us about the project you built and the process behind it, as well as what inspired you to work on it.

Comprised of Genta Ishimura, Ian Lowrie and Nigel Dembicki, we make up an architectural design collective studioCAMP. We all went through the Environmental Design program at UBC and bonded over our shared interests in architectural design. The Bending Bench was the result of answering a call for proposals from the City of Vancouver’s VIVA Vancouver program, which looks at temporarily turning car oriented spaces into pedestrian oriented spaces over the course of the summer. We built a 37.5 foot bendable bench on wheels that’s divided into ten segments. Each segment has a solid two inch maple slab on top and the siding is made from various wood cuts.

As the VIVA Vancouver program is a temporary summer program, we wanted to create a visually striking and playful social space for people to interact with that they might not normally come across in their day-to-day lives. We also wanted to incorporate as many local and reused materials as possible. The slab came from a Vancouver maple tree that was cut and milled while the siding and frame were mostly scraps we found or had donated to us. From there we looked at interesting design precedents and went to the drawing board, where we drafted iteration after iteration after iteration until we reached something we were satisfied with.

What is your experience with tools? Which tools did you use for this specific project?

All of us have a little knowledge working with tools through a mixture of working various summer jobs and building personal projects. Building the ‘Bendch’ was great as it allowed all of us to learn a little more about using different tools based on our varied skill sets.

For this project we used a brad nail gun w/air compressor, chop saw, table saw, planer, edge planer, cordless drill + bits, clamps, orbital sander, sheet sander, paintbrush, and measuring tape.

Which organizations did you collaborate with on this project and how did they help you?

While we designed and built the Bending Bench, there were many organizations and people that helped in its creation and traveling summer programme. We’d like to give a big thanks to the following organizations for their help and contributions:

VIVA Vancouver: A partner in the project that took on many adminstrative roles.
MODO Car Co-op: A sponsor that gave us free use of a truck to deliver the Bendch to various sites across the city.
Westcoast Wood Slabs: A sponsor that donated the entire length of maple slab top for the Bendch.
The Vancouver Foundation: A non-profit organization that provided us with funding.
David Peacock: A woodworker and friend of studioCAMP that gave us access to a woodwork shop to use its large stationary tools such as the table saw and planer. He also gave us some helpful woodworking tips.
And of course the Vancouver Tool Library: Our primary collaborator and supplier of tools. Going into this project we owned two drills and a couple of hand tools between the three of us. We would have been up the creek without a paddle without you guys!

What was the response from the public after seeing the Bendch in various spaces around Vancouver? Is this something that is likely to be replicated elsewhere?

It was great seeing public response to the project. The Bendch assumed different roles as it moved between sites in Vancouver.

Photos courtesy of studioCAMP

At some sites it was placed in a specific position to become seating for performances such as for a fashion show at Livable Laneways, and for a childrens show and youth taiko drumming at the Powell Street Festival. In the downtown Vancouver Public Library atrium and at the foot of Hornby street between Pender and Hastings in Coal Harbour, the Bendch acted as an interactive piece that people could move and bend at their will. This offered varying ways that the public engaged with it.

We don’t look at this as a project to be directly replicated elsewhere. We see it as part of a larger conversation in finding interesting and beautiful design solutions that enhance a pedestrians daily experience. There’s an unlimited number of options out there. It’s just about getting involved and making things that interest you and hopefully others!

Next project plans?

We like a mixture of office and hands-on work. Currently we are entering a few competitions online and working towards building a lighting prototype. We’re always keeping our eyes open for new projects.

Thanks to Nigel and the team at studioCAMP for letting us feature their great project. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!