Co-DB stands for Collaborative Design and Build. We design and build projects in collaboration with clients, endusers and each other. So when we were asked to create an archive and display trolley for Welling School, for all their amazing in house publications and æ, Arts and Education Newspaper, we saw it as a great opportunity to push ourselves, and the design and build process, and collaborate directly with students.
Design and build is a a term we use every day and can sometimes take it for granted. Working with students at Welling School, planning our time with them and thinking about how to demonstrate what we do at Co-DB, made us focus back in on what it means, breaking it down so that we could take the students through every step.
Co-DB spent two days in the school, over three weeks, working with 15 key stage 3 students from years seven through to nine. Day 1 was design. The wealth and breadth of ideas was great and it was really fun to see how they developed as we introduced different tools to communicate them, including model making, layering tracing paper and sketch-up.
Over the following week we developed the final design, back at the Co-DB workshop, from the designs created by the students in Day 1.
Initial design proposal before feedback
By them time we returned to Welling School two weeks later all the students had a good idea of what we were doing and were really excited to see the final design we were to make. We had sent an initial design proposal during the week which students and staff had given us feed back on so everyone could see and understood how we got to to the design we did.
Final design after feedback from staff and students
Day 2 was building and delivery and it ended with a beautiful finished product and a launch party for everyone involved in the school reception .
This process has re-affirmed for us that collaborative design and build is the most empowering way to engage people to think about their own environments and the world and find ways to affect change in them through action.
Watching the excitement and amazement grow in the students as they watched our trolley come together through their own actions, from project managing the build, to screwing it together using drills they taught themselves to use and applying the vinyl texts with care and consideration, made this one of our most rewarding and exciting projects to work on.
We are professional designers, we could have taken the initial brief, designed a great trolley, got it made, installed it, taken some pictures for our website and left it in Welling School for them to do what they like with it. The process of working collaboratively has meant that instead Welling School has an object that not only can they use, but they can be proud of it as they tell a story about how it came to be and students, even those who didn't get to come to our workshop, can know that it is their archive that they can take ownership of and hopefully next time they have a problem that needs solving or see something that needs building they will be more inclined to have a go at it themselves.
Thats the hope anyway.....