Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Project: Sustainable BirdHouse Designed w/ Google SketchUp & Built for Architecture for Humanity Atlanta BirdHouseSocial Charity Auction on 8.20.11

Purpose: To Design and Build a BirdHouse for the 3rd Annual BirdHouse Social (8.20.11) silent auction with Architecture for Humanity Atlanta Chapter, in order to raise funds for AFHA projects while showing support and commitment to humanitarian design in Atlanta and beyond.

Find Materials.
One of my personal design challenges of this project was to find and use 100% ReClaimed Materials.  There is a never ending stream of items, labeled as garbage or waste that are constantly gathered and taken to the landfill.  One aim of this project was to find the materials that are still usable, and recycle them back into the construction "material stream", and divert their trip to the Landfill.
This was a tough challenge.  As I found out.  I looked for the right salvaged materials for weeks and weeks. I wanted some solid wood furniture that wasn't stained on both sides.  I found some old solid wood cabinets near the dumpster,grabbed them up, and put them in my truck.
I continued to look for discarded and reclaimed items.  I found a small bed frame, and disassembled the hardware connections and brackets for use on my Sustainable BirdHouse.  I also went to Goodwill, and purchased some reclaimed porcelain butter dishes to use as the rainwater catchment birdbath.


Challenge + Concept = Design Solution
Challenge 1.  Build from Reclaimed Materials.
     Solution: Use ReClaimed Cabinets to make up the Nesting-Box, a Microwave outer casing composes the Roof, Hardware from  an
      old Bed Frame holds everything together. 
Challenge 2.  Create a Functional, Useful, Purpose Driven Design.
     Solution:  Make an ideal Nesting Box size, with Hinge Door for easy cleanout, and Luxury BirdBath on side.
Challenge 3.  Create a Safe / Non-Toxic Habitat.
     Solution:  Use the Non-Stained/Painted raw wood surfaces on Interior.  Do Not use any extra stains or adhesives.
Challenge 4.  Create something Aesthetically Crafted.
     Solution:  Find inspiration by the wisdom & stealth of the Owl.
Challenge 5. Create a  Sustainable Design.
     Solution:  Implement a RainWater Catchment BirdBath, Solar Passive Roof Heating,  made of Biodegradable Materials.
Challenge 6.  Abide by Designed-for-Disassembly (DFD) principles.
     Solution:  Follow Designed to be disassembled general guidelines; attach with mechanical fasteners only, no glue or adhesives,   
     and use only a raw material palette that can safely be Upcycled for future use, or, at the end of the materials useful lifespan,      
     because  it is bio-degrade the material is able to safely return to the (soils of the) earth.

"Owl Creation" Designer Birdhouse for the "Architecture for Humanity Atlanta Chapter" Birdhouse Social 2011 at StudioPlex.
Designer: Andrew Telker of TelkerDesign
Theme: RainWaterCatchment / ReClaimed Materials / Design-for-Disassembly
Client:  Eastern Screech Owl
Size:   9.5” x 9.5” x 1’-8”
Once I have a solid concept sketch, and I know what materials I am working with, I immediately go into Google SketchUp and begin the conceptualization process  by drafting out the parts and possible configurations in 3D.  I work with the precision accuracy of the computer to see exactly how things will go together, down to the nuts and bolts.  I find it very useful to work out problems in digital land before beginning construction.  Sometimes, when I get stuck on an idea, style, or engineering feature, it helps that I take a break, and come back at the project with a renewed perspective and fresh attitude.  You can see from the image (left) that the design process is an evolution process, and each decision leads to the final outcome. 

Notice, there are about 20 model changes or evolutionary design decisions that led to a more refined concept.  Working everything out in 3D, allowed me to maximize material efficiency, and create a project that is more sophisticated than 2D Plans would have allowed.

Design Solution:
ABOVE, Check-Out the 3D Digital Model composed with Google SketchUp software of the Sustainable BirdHouse.  You can click on the image above and rotate 360 degrees around the model, and you can also visit the Google 3D WareHouse and Download the Model as a 3D SketchUp File --- cool stuff!

If you remember, one of the goals/challenges of the project is to embrace the  D.F.D. principals, so special care was taken in the design to avoid using chemicals, stains, or adhesives that were not already introduced in the previous materials-lifespan.  The structural panels and accessories are attached with mechanical connections, and the completed unit is easily assembled and disassembled.
On the left is an exploded diagram of the Sustainable BirdHouse, each part was modeled and fitted in 3D for conflict resolution and to provide detailed construction plans.  Finite details were added, notice how the interior is purposely an untreated/unstained raw wood (non-toxic) surface.  Like a tailored suit, each piece was measured, well thought, and intended to make a thoughtful and well crafted product.  FYI - Dimensioned Detailed Plans available, email: 
*This Project was also Featured in the August 2011 Issue of SketchUp-Ur-Space SketchUp Magazine*

Once the project was designed with Google SketchUp 3D Digital Modeling software, I added some lighting/material effects with VRAY render and took a photo of a nearby tree, and then compiled the layers with Adobe Photoshop for this Conceptual Digital Visualization of an Eastern Screech Owl flying into his new home, with young family waiting his arrival.  Yes, Design and Visualization is what I do BEST!


Disassemble ReClaimed / Salvaged Materials
DeConstruct Cabinets, Microwave, & Bed Frame
There was a lot of work to be done in preparing the salvaged items for ReUse.  I worked on disassembling the Cabinets first.  The Cabinets were made of solid wood construction, so they were perfect candidates for ReUse!  Here (in the photo to the right) I am stripping off the Plywood on the back-side, and then I continue to pry apart the frame with a hammer and pry-bar.
ReUsing salvaged items is an extremely important theme in this project.  I tried to minimize waste, and maximize material efficiency and usage.  It was a tough challenge to work with ReClaimed Items, because I never knew what I would or wouldn't find.  The materials I did find were limited, so I was very careful to disassemble them without causing damage. 

I have posted 3 videos.  In the first video, I am further disassembling the Cabinets.  Notice how I pry off the 2"  oak frame that is nailed to the face.  Removing this allows the rest of the frame to be easily taken apart.  Watching this video, you get a REAL sense of how quickly these things can come apart. As this video plays, you can hear me discuss the Overall Design / Build process, and I also narrate as I continue to work.  By the end of this video, you will see a pile of 1"x12" boards that have been ReClaimed from the Salvaged Cabinets and are almost ready to use on a Sustainable BirdHouse.

In the Second Video (middle), I am using a Table-Saw to mill the cabinets boards into useful planks for the Sustainable BirdHouse.
In the Third Video (bottom), I cut the outer steel casing off of a microwave (salvaged) with the intended purpose of using it as the roof.

After I had cut the outer steel casing off the microwave, I took a small hammer and block of wood and beat the sheet metal somewhat flat.  The steel microwave casing was perfect for the roof.  Once the sheet metal was prepared, I took it to Dixie Duct & Fabrication in Roswell Georgia, where Mike the shop foreman bent the metal from the microwave to a 166 degree angle (180-14).  He put a nice clean professional bend in the metal, and it looked great.  It was the architectural touch the Sustainable BirdHouse needed.

When I got back home from my visit to Dixie Duct, I continued where I left off.  I proceed to mill the pieces to the Design specifications that I laid out with Google SketchUp.  Everything went together so much easier with 3D BluePrints.  Creating a 3D Digital Model of the project before even starting fabrication helped me avoid making any vital mistakes with my limited resources.

I used the table saw to mill planks.  Then I measured for the entry hole and used a scroll saw to cut the planks as marked.  Then, I drilled holes in the planks, and fit them with a socket set screw, which is put in place with a ratchet, and then the screw is then tightened or loosened into the threaded connection with a hex key.
I salvaged the socket set screw from a bed frame, and was lucky enough to find 8, in order to connect the Sustainable BirdHouse for easy assemble / disassemble purposes (& D.F.D.)  It was a neat design, and I was extremely excited that it worked perfectly.   

When it was ALL cut, screwed, assembled, and adjusted -- I was extremely happy, and now ready for the BirdHouse Social.
The Sustainable BirdHouse is a project that showcases my design beliefs and passion for healthy design on every level, and I was thrilled to be able to participate with AFHA while creating a safe home for one of Mother Natures' creatures: the Eastern Screech Owl.

From the Images on to the right, you can see the attention to detail on the finished Sustainable BirdHouse.
Notice the Hinge Door (for easy cleanout) on the left side of the nesting-box, and the ReClaimed porcelain Birdbath with RainWater Catchment rainchain on the right side.  This was a super-fun project!

Charity Auction & Social Event

It's true, hardwork does pay off!   We made it! BIG thanks to all the folks who contributed their time and to all our Sponsors who made the 3rd Annual BirdHouse Social on 8/20/11 an amazing success !!! 

On that afternoon, the "Owl Creation", Designed and Built by Andrew Telker was auctioned off to help support the projects of the Architecture for Humanity Atlanta [AFHA] organization.

The BirdHouse Social is the signature fundraising event for Architecture for Humanity Atlanta [AFHA], that showcases creative birdhouse and bat box designs imagined by some of Atlanta’s most creative personalities. The outdoor courtyard at Studioplex played host to this magical evening combining music, interpretive bird dance and fanciful birdhouse displays.  Designing a birdhouse for auction, shows support and commitment to humanitarian design in Atlanta and beyond.  Visit:

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