True to UC Berkeley’s public mission, embARC will include an overall theme of civic responsibility by partnering with a local community organization to tackle an authentic community improvement project. Through this community partnership, students will employ the tools they learn in studios, workshops, and lectures to make a difference on real-world community development and design issues.
2017 Community Client: UC Berkeley Food Pantry
UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design is excited to announce the embARC Summer Design Academy's 2017 Design Build Community Partner, the UC Berkeley Food Pantry!
According to their website, the Food Pantry is a "direct response to the need among the student population to juggle the costs of living with the costs of obtaining a university degree, and thus many students are finding themselves choosing between essentials such as food and the costs of college."
embARC students will be building a series of mobile carts and trailers designed to ease the friction in distribution of food from UC Berkeley's farm and garden spaces to the Food Pantry, increase the visibility and accessibility of the Food Pantry on campus, and empower food insecure students to put together delicious and nutrient-rich meals from the Food Pantry's offerings.
Students will gain insight into the designer-client relationship through an examination of the design research process, and will have hands-on engagement with the fabrication component of the Design Build, including metalworking, woodworking and digital fabrication.
embARC's Design Build will run in tandem with the Sustainable Planning Workshop, which will investigate the context for campus food insecurity, identifying hubs and outliers in the campus food system chain and seeking to understand the larger food justice movement that is taking hold in urban areas across the country.
The embARC program is extremely grateful to the UC Berkeley Basic Needs Committee for a generous grant for materials and to Mike's Bikes for a crucial in-kind donation that will increase the effectiveness of this project exponentially.
2016 Community Client: Urban Tilth
UC Berkeley's 2016 embARC Summer Design Academy partnered with the renowned Urban Tilth, drawing inspiration and feedback from Bienvenida Meza, Luis Chavez, Doria Robinson and UT Summer Apprentices. Urban Tilth is a non-profit organization based in Richmond that promotes equal access to healthy food. In their words: "We farm, feed, forage, teach, train, build community, employ, and give back."
The 2016 embARC Design Build project - overseen by CED Fabrication Shop Mechanicians Tonia Sing Chi and Elizabeth Thorp - donated a storage shelter and rainwater catchment system to the Verde Elementary School Partnership Garden, a hub of the North Richmond community upon which a range of local residents depend for fresh food. The structures incorporated sustainable materials into a contemporary form, giving embARC students a real-world example of the necessity of environmental responsibility in all aspects of the design and fabrication process.
Each year, embARC's Design Build project is linked to the Sustainable Planning Workshop and the Architecture & Design studio with the aim of presenting the study and practice of environmental design as an interwoven, interdependent and interdisciplinary field.
For more information, visit Urban Tilth's website.
We would like to extend our appreciation to John Voekel, Principal Engineer at Framework Engineering, for generously donating his time and energy to ensuring the structural integrity of the Design Build project.
John is a principal and founder of Framework Engineering and received both his M.ARCH and MS. Eng at UC Berkeley. His professional work as an Engineer includes carefully detailed wood-frame construction, sustainable straw-bale and concrete buildings, and special steel frames for high-seismic areas.
Having a design background allows for a more collaborative relationship with both Architects and Contractors, an openness to taking on challenging proposals, and better final projects.
John has maintained a connection to UC Berkeley through volunteer efforts such as this one, teaching as a Lecturer in the Department of Architecture, and researching energy efficient and structural wall systems at the Richmond Field Station.
2015 Community Client: Golden Gate Audubon Society
embARC 2015 took on the Golden Gate chapter of the Audubon Society, located on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, as their community partner and Design-Build client. In consultation with Anthony DeCicco, the Golden Gate Audubon Society's youth education director, and UC Berkeley Fabrication Shop staff Semar Prom, Elizabeth Thorp and Paul Mirocha, embARC students produced a number of designs that met the needs of local endangered bird populations.
Three of the boxes will be permanently installed in Blake Garden, the College of Environmental Design's "landscape laboratory" in the hills of Kensington, under the watchful eye of Garden Manager Laurie Twitchell. The rest of the boxes fabricated by the students will be donated to the Golden Gate Audubon Society and the Raptor Observatory, located near Hawk Hill in Marin County, where volunteers will monitor and record data about avian visitors.
According to their mission statement, "The Golden Gate Audubon Society engages people to experience the wonder of birds, and translate that wonder into action in order to protect native bird populations and their habitats." The embARC team would like to thank GGAS for being such engaged, inspiring partners for the summer of 2015.
2014 Community Client: Spiral Gardens
In 2014, embARC partnered with Spiral Gardens, a non-profit food security project, to design and build a chicken coop for the local Berkeley community. The mission of Spiral Gardens is to create healthy sustainable communities by promoting a strong local food system and encouraging productive use of urban soil. The students designed housing complexes and built models of their ideas in CED’s fabrication shop and digital fabrication lab, both in Wurster Hall. Students were led by CED instructor Matt Wolpe, a fabrication shop mechanician who runs his own Design-build company and has co-authored a book on designing chicken coops. With the embARC students' contribution, a small clutch of hens (plus a few ducks and turkey chicks) are now nesting comfortably in a new redwood four-plex in southwest Berkeley. The mission of Spiral Gardens is to “create healthy sustainable communities by promoting a strong local food system and encouraging productive use of urban soil.”