Scenario 2 The Rainy Parasol, deals with Resource boundaries, which are related to the resources, because the resources can also create a divide among people, societies, regions and countries.
We propose a cosy place situated at the west tip of Buda Island providing a different use and experience of a rainy day. A place where you can enjoy nature at its best, among plants, breeze and the sound of water.
Scenario 2 seemed easy on paper but it took a lot of time and trials to get it done as it had a lot of component.
It rains a lot in Kortrijk and sometimes the rain makes the day seem very dull and grey. We wanted to use this rain and create a space from where people can appreciate this resource. We wanted this space to be a shelter during the rain and also be in an open space. We started looking at places which offer beautiful view of the city and found the vegetable garden maintained by VELT on the tip of the Buda Island to be an ideal place. We spoke to Frank and Peter from VELT about the idea of the parasol and they really liked the idea.
We wanted the Rainy Parasol to be a place where people can come and relax and enjoy nature among plants, the sound of the water. We also asked people about what they would like to do on a rainy day, a lot of them wanted to watch movies, some of them wanted to be outside without getting wet and to feel a sense of warmth. Even on a non rainy day, just get your camping chair and enjoy the view. We also wanted to use the rainwater collected to be distributed to the plants. One more idea which we really wanted to incorporate was to give a feeling of warmth whenever it rained and to create a glow around the parasol. For that we thought of using lights which only work when it rains. And these lights needed to be off grid as there is no power source in the vegetable garden.
We started looking at ways to make the parasol, which was in simple terms, a funnel collecting water but at the same time big enough to provide shelter. We reached to Ronald from Industrial Design Center Howest to give us some leads on people making parasols, fabric structures etc. He gave us a few leads and we got down to writing to these people to help us or collaborate in making the parasol. One of the firms we got in touch with was Nomad Concept, an architecture firm building tensile fabric structure. We went to meet Amandus, an architect and head of Nomad in his Antwerp office. We saw some of the work he had done and it was really inspiring and nice. We hoped that he could make a structure for us but unfortunately the timing didn’t work out.
We thought that we’ll build the parasol on our own using metal tubes and sheets, but one day when we were out to buy material for the island we found a drying rack in Hubo, which was close to what we wanted to build as a structure. We started looking at ways to modify it according to our needs.
The installation had various sub assemblies.
The drying rack is like a giant inverted umbrella with 4 spokes made out of U shaped aluminum channel. The span of the spokes can be increased or decreased depending on where the central hub is on the pole.
The next crucial part of the build was to find a fabric which was waterproof and strong enough to withstand rain, sun and wind. We went to a lot of stores looking for fabric and had a really hard time finding one which met our size and colour constrains. In between we found plastic sheets used in shower curtains and tried to make a rough model of the water collecting part. Then after the prototype was done we got waterproof fabric from Euroshop, we cut the fabric to dimension and then got it stitched from Roos (Bolwerk). The water collector is composed of 4 pieces of waterproof textile stitched together and fixed to the parasol. The water collected by the textile is directed to a water reservoir mounted on the central pole. This reservoir is connected to three pipes which channel the water into three containers.
As the light system had to be off grid we thought of using a windmill along with solar panel, but it was turning out to be too costly and there were some practical issues with installations of the windmill. Then we thought of using solar lights which could be activated with a switch. For activating the lights we thought of various ways. Initially we thought that we can use water as a conductor to close the connection between two wires to activate the light. That idea didn’t work perfectly as the resistance of water was too high. Then we started looking at sensors and thought that it was too complicated to repair them in case something goes wrong.
Then we finally decide to use a mechanical switch which gets activated by a series of containers which get filled with rainwater. We got solar lights from Brico and modified the circuit to only work when it rains. Max a volunteer at BudaLab helped in hacking the circuit to work with the end-stop rather than switch on automatically when the ambient light gets low. All the lights were chained to a single end-stop switch. The solar panel wire was extended and the switch was also connected to the lamp with a long wire as they were mounted at different places. Everything was sealed with silicon and hotglue.
We needed storage also to collect the water which was being collected by the parasol and then divert that water into the containers through pipes. For the storage we found a waste bin in Brico which was fitting our size constrains. We also tried out various pipes but eventually settled on radiator pipes used in houses. We made a 6cm and three 1.5cm holes in the bin to fit the radiator pipe and the central pole. The good thing was that the pipes also come with brass connectors. So, it was easy to mount the pipes on the water storage. Water storage and the pipes were painted white.
After a lot of searching in stores and online we finally found the containers which we wanted to use in the installation. We got the containers from a store in Paris. The containers have 3 holes on the top from which they can be suspended. We got white rope to tie the containers and also some pulleys to pass the rope and connect it with a counter weight and switch. A 2mm hole was made in the bottom of each container to let the water drain.
The height of drying rack was short. We got a new metal pipe in which the rack’s central pole could slide in and the two are locked in place using nut and bolt. The parasol will be put in the soil using a screw anchor. The pole and the screw was painted red.
Switch and Pulley
The end-stop was mounted on an L bracket along with a pulley. This pulley was connected to one of the buckets which when filled with water moves a counterweight up and triggers the end-stop and switches on the lights.
The step by step process of assembling the parasol is explained using CAD sketches.
The four corners of textile container were punched and metal eyelets were put in them. Textile was connected to the rack’s U channels using nut and bolts.
Next holes were made in the U channels for mounting lights. Lights and the solar panels were fixed to the channels using zip ties. The wire from all the lights had to go to the central pole where the switch was to be mounted. Again zip ties were used to attach the wires along the channels to the central pole.
The L bracket with the pulley system was mounted on the pole using a M10 hex head nut and bolt. The end-stop was fixed to the bracket using zip ties and hot glue. Two other pulleys were mounted on the pole 120 degree from each other using M10 nut and bolt.
The water storage along with the containers was slid into the pole and ropes were passed over the pulleys and connected to counter weights. The L bracket had two holes from which the rope passes. One end was connected to the container and the other was connected to the counterweight. The end-stop was mounted in such a way that when the counterweight go up because of the bucket getting filled with rainwater it pushes the end-stop and the lights go on. The other two containers were also passed over individual pulleys and then connected to a single counterweight.
This entire assembly was then inserted into the 6cm central pole. The water storage was fixed to the pole using a ring fastener and silicon was put to make it waterproof.
The assembled parasol can be put in a garden using a screw attachment which can be driven into the soil and then the central pole can be inserted into it and fixed into position using a bolt.