News - May 31, 2007

Ikea for the Third World

Students at the Bamboo & Empowerment workshop in the Atlas building last week.
Members of the Student Workforce from Maastricht gave a Bamboo & Empowerment workshop in the Atlas building on Wednesday 23 May. The students were invited by Nitocra, the study association of International Land and Water Management, for its fifth anniversary celebrations.

One of the guests, a Canadian, briefly described the principles of the NGO/study association for sustainability and development. The idea is to re-design existing technologies so that they can be made easily using everyday materials. Then the participants got to work on a compact self-assembly kit consisting of bamboo poles, wire and metal catches, and constructed a lightweight pillar (called a demonstration unit) about two and a half metres high. The second part of the assignment was to make a text that can be attached to the pillar for use in a demonstration.

Mariska van Gaalen gave the same workshop the previous week in Amsterdam. ‘The people there were getting ready for the G8 demonstrations. This design towers above everyone at demonstrations and is a good way of attracting media attention. We also have a larger model, six metres high, which is great for demonstrations that last a few days - you can lay the unit on its side and use it as a tent to sleep in or set up a first-aid post.’

The participants are surprised at how easy the work is. And there’s also a design for students with cramped living space: little stools you can sit on, or combine to make a table or even storage space. A bit like the Ikea self-assembly kits, but cheaper and easy to adapt to your own needs.