That wonderful WOMAD weekend
We've had three nights sleep in our own beds and at least four showers since we returned from WOMAD at Charlton Park and we're only just starting to reassemble our minds (and bodies!), which were utterly blown by the brilliance of it all. We were invited by the lovely people at Tangentfield to provide the bicycle generators to power their stage in the Roots Architecture arena. Little could have prepared us for the unique and special experience of being part of their extended team.
Tangentfield are all about redefining the building process as a valuable event rather than solely a means to an end. They get people from a range of different disciplines to come together and build and create things. For us, this is a really exciting concept. It's like an architects equivalent of a musician jamming.
Around forty participants with an interest in architecture, design and building paid a little extra on top of the price for a WOMAD weekend ticket and got to take part in a 4-day workshop and design challenge throughout the festival. Four teams were formed on Thursday afternoon after a short introduction and the brief was set - build four stages in the style of 'consequences', so four individual structures that came together and transformed into one spectacular 'beast' of a stage. They had just three full days to source materials, design and build a stage structure that would be used for a finale performance on Sunday evening. While these teams cracked on, a pedal-powered audition stage was built and WOMAD punters were invited to get up on stage and show off their talents. We were pleasantly surprised by the superb quality of the performers over the weekend. Cycling energy mostly from children powered the PA system for the auditions over the course of the weekend.
Tagentfield invited a number of skilled and experienced designers and builders to assist the teams on the building project. These included: Bamboo sculptor Jack Everett, Folke Koebberling and Martin Kaltwasser, Tyin Tegnestue from Norway, Architecture Sans Frontiere and Charley Brentnall of Carpenter Oak & Woodland. Each brought their own influences and approach to the project and many had experience of building emergency shelters to aid humanitarian disasters.
All participants were encouraged to explore the materials they could forage for and source on the festival site. One person's rubbish, is another person's building materials. The materials that were provided by Tangentfield came from local recycling plants and scrap yards. This really keyed in with our 'waste not, want not' values. It felt like a very timely, inspiring weekend in light of our recent archway building project.
While all this building activity was going on in the background we ran a pedal-powered mobile phone charging service and carried out demonstrations and experiments with the help from the very talented physics graduates, Jacque and Dan. We took our Light Box resistance demonstration and our new 12 volt kettle which we challenged passers by to try and boil with pedal power. The reward? A nice cup of tea. On the Saturday night we even set up an impromptu pedal-powered cinema session.
We ran the mobile phone charging service on a donation basis and gave this money back to Tangentfield to contribute towards their expenses from the weekend. Rumor soon got around the festival that you could get your phone charged for the price of a pedal. This in itself was a useful experiment for us, it seems that on average people felt that £2 was the value of a charging session. We'll take that on board for future events.
We feel like we learned a lot from this experience and we really hope to work with some of these people again. It was an honour to be a part of it. It wasn't a festival it was an 'emotional journey', said Colin.
The amazing Nick White from the Bristol Pedal Revolution managed to build a pedal powered drill while we were on site. It has to be seen to be believed.