Pulp Chair

This projects aims to address the challenge put forward by the INDEX design brief: Designing for Education. INDEX has collaborated with UNICEF, Unite for Children Organization, to address the issues of inadequate and total absence of school structures, facilities and furniture. Both INDEX and UNICEF are non profit organizations, and the brief is based on the CHILD FRIENDLY SCHOOLS MODEL (CFS), designed by UNICEF: which aims to ensure that every child – regardless of gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background or circumstances – has access to a quality education. They advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.

The Community:
Shoshanguve is a rural community situated just outside of Pretoria. It is fairly large community consisting of low cost settlement. The schools in and around the area also lack of funds, and thus most of them do not have sufficient, or any, tables and chairs for the learners. When a group of scholars were asked from the area what they think would be most beneficial for classroom use they said chairs without a moment thought. In Shoshanguve there are a large amount of reusable recourses like paper, scrap metal, cardboard and some others. So from within the community, through available materials they would be able to produce the designed chair made of paper Mache.

The Problem:
The brief focuses on the global education crisis and therefore design solutions should aim to be relevant in numerous contexts. Some factors to consider are: the learning environment, nature of the floor surface, the ergonomic requirements for school furniture, waterproofing, fireproofing, durability, flexibility, mobility. Research involving current solutions and problems can provide an appropriate platform into address the needs and requirements of the challenge.

The design Solution:
The particular issue addressed by this group project deals with Index’s Challenge 2: Environmentally friendly, low cost school furniture, using waste material. Emphasis has been placed on Process and Materials for this particular challenge. Materials such as sawdust, wood chippings, fabrics, paper and cardboard are waste products; they are recyclable and are easily accessible. Material exploration will involve possible methods of processing waste to create sealed and hardened school furniture. Variations of papier-mâché can provide numerous possibilities as the construction process should be simple and easy to replicate by adults or children. The construction of simplistic moulds is an avenue that could be explored in combination with effective use of waste materials.

Cooperation with existing community structures, such as FabLabs is an option that can be explored as they could provide the necessary machinery and materials to achieve final products. The FabLab in Soshanguve, a township north of Pretoria, can provide valuable insight and information regarding current projects, solutions and problems faced within rural community schools.

Some of the problems encountered whilst making the prototype where: Ingredients: There were problems with some of the ingredients we used,we had to do over 12 recipes and we finally got two working ingredients. These two recipes were both done in the oven and microwave and made a hard mold from these ingredients. The cardboard pulp was the best solution. Drying processes: This was one of our biggest problems as drying systems would not actually dry the mold. Most drying processes uses cold air and our chair design would need a big oven/ microwave which is really expensive to use. The users’ best solution could be a clay oven but not at normal temperatures as this could be the correct size. Molding: The molding was a problem because the wood mold burnt in the oven and the pulp mixture got stuck to the mold once cooked. The only way we fixed this was by cutting the mold in half and then using further mixture to make full mold. Solution could be timber molds, glass molds or metal moulds because the mixture normally does not get stuck to these surfaces.