Building dreams

UQ architecture student Siubhan Rudge standing under the pavilion

Siubhan Rudge standing under the pavilion built using available materials

Siubhan Rudge standing under the pavilion built using available materials

UQ Architecture students Siubhan Rudge (L) and Lara Rann (R) sitting under the pavilion they'd constructed using raw materials

UQ architecture students Siubhan Rudge (L) and Lara Rann (R) sitting under the pavilion they'd constructed by hand using available materials

UQ architecture students Siubhan Rudge (L) and Lara Rann (R) sitting under the pavilion they'd constructed by hand using available materials

When the pandemic cancelled their plans for study exchanges in Sweden and Canada, UQ Master of Architecture students Lara Rann and Siubhan Rudge decided it was time to finally launch a project they’d been talking about doing for years.

With nothing holding them back, earlier this year they jumped in a ute and drove to a family farm to build something from scratch. It was the first Pavilion Party – a spontaneous and fun 72 hour design-build event that encourages people to use readily available materials creatively. 

bamboo construction

Pavilion Party 2020

As this year has been a series of unforeseeable events, we had been searching for new and positive opportunities to pursue. It led us to use our newly acquired spare time to hold our first Pavilion Party – making a pavilion shade from organic materials. The focus of this project was to reconnect and draw attention to the beauty of regional Australia.

UQ architecture student Siubhan Rudge standing in a paddock in Spring Grove Valley

UQ architecture student Siubhan Rudge standing in a paddock in Spring Grove Valley

UQ architecture student Siubhan Rudge standing in a paddock in Spring Grove Valley

Our first venture was a $0 canopy structure made from locally sourced and recycled materials on Lara’s family property in the Spring Grove Valley, Casino. The landscape of the valley is a feature we wanted to work with and express. Our final canopy would be  superimposed onto a fallen gumtree as a way to utilise ’uninhabited space’ in the paddock and transform the sprawling branches into an occupiable place for people to pause, have a coffee and offer new perspectives on the valley.

Student using a drill to construction pavilion
UQ architecture student Siubhan Rudge starting construction on pavilion using available bamboo

UQ architecture student Siubhan Rudge starting construction on pavilion using available bamboo

UQ architecture student Siubhan Rudge starting construction on pavilion using available bamboo

Lara Rann building the pavilion framework in a paddock

Lara Rann building the pavilion framework in a paddock

Lara Rann building the pavilion framework in a paddock

The pavilion starts to take shape as Siubhan works on the canopy structure

The pavilion starts to take shape as Siubhan works on the canopy structure

The pavilion starts to take shape as Siubhan works on the canopy structure

In this region, bamboo has taken over valuable land on many properties and is difficult and time-consuming to remove. Many locals are eager to have the bamboo removed, which inspired us to focus on using exotic bamboo as our primary material. We felled and milled the bamboo from a neighbouring paddock to produce rods for sub-structures and finer material for weaving a canopy fabric.

Working with the material directly from its origin gave us a deeper understanding of the bamboo’s physical properties and greatly influenced our final design. With no regulated sizing of any bamboo pieces, we used the size variation to our advantage in the design.

Much like the structure of a gumtree, thicker rods of bamboo were strategically connected at the base of the tree and thinner rods placed at the ends of the two primary branches. This gradient from heavy to lightweight was mimicked in the canopy density. A high density of woven bamboo rods and foliage were used at the base of the tree and structure to create a sense of privacy and shelter. As the canopy elevation increased, the amount of woven materials reduced until there were only a few twigs scattered at the peak of the canopy, which opened to views of the sky.

To maintain our $0 budget, we fastened the bamboo to the gumtree with recycled baton screws left over from the removal of an old, hail-damaged tin roof. These were also used to fasten recycled fabric to three lower branches of the tree to create a relaxing hammock seat under the canopy.

The finished pavilion in the paddock with cows looking at it

The finished pavilion

UQ students Siubhan Rudge (L) and Lara Rann (R) celebrating with glasses of wine after completing their pavilion using available materials

Siubhan Rudge (L) and Lara Rann (R) celebrating their completed pavilion

The finished pavilion in the paddock with cows looking at it

The finished pavilion

UQ students Siubhan Rudge (L) and Lara Rann (R) celebrating with glasses of wine after completing their pavilion using available materials

Siubhan Rudge (L) and Lara Rann (R) celebrating their completed pavilion

Within 72 hours we created a small, informal place to relax and reflect. After completion we were able to enjoy a picnic under the canopy – sitting back in our hammocks and propping our glasses and food on a makeshift table. During our picnic we were able to watch the cattle and kangaroos, as well as the sunset over the valley.

Since leaving, Lara’s parents have been in touch to mention they’ve enjoyed stopping to have a cup of tea under the canopy on their morning walk around the property.

The Pavilion Party was a fantastic experience that allowed us to develop new skills and understand the practicalities that need to be considered when designing. These hands-on skills included: the logistics of material sourcing, the limitations and opportunities of materials, working with time constraints, working around cattle that enjoy eating bamboo foliage as well as understanding how to safely construct.

Thinking through steps from material sourcing to the construction of our proposed design, was a useful and fun exercise that highlighted the importance of adaptability and flexibility when building a functional object.

Overall, it was a fun opportunity for us to finally take action on something we had been discussing and brainstorming for years. Working on the fly, with no set outcomes or expectations, stresses of assessment, clients or deadlines was a great way to try new things and not be afraid to have a go. Our main focus was to enjoy the process and most importantly, have fun!

 To see more of our process and stay up to date on future projects, check out @pavilion.party on Instagram.

Looking over the students' shoulders to the paddock with cattle
Siubhan and Lara sitting under their pavilion celebrating after finishing it

Siubhan and Lara celebrating after finishing their pavilion

Siubhan and Lara celebrating after finishing their pavilion

bamboo canopy using locally sourced materials

Bamboo canopy

Bamboo canopy

Siubhan sitting under the pavilion in the late afternoon sun

Siubhan sitting under the pavilion

Siubhan sitting under the pavilion

Lara relaxing sitting in the hammock under the pavilion

Lara relaxing in the hammock under the pavilion

Lara relaxing in the hammock under the pavilion

Siubhan standing next to the pavilion at night

Siubhan standing next to the pavilion at night

Siubhan standing next to the pavilion at night

Siubhan and Lara sitting under their pavilion celebrating after finishing it

Siubhan and Lara celebrating after finishing their pavilion

Siubhan and Lara celebrating after finishing their pavilion

bamboo canopy using locally sourced materials

Bamboo canopy

Bamboo canopy

Siubhan sitting under the pavilion in the late afternoon sun

Siubhan sitting under the pavilion

Siubhan sitting under the pavilion

Lara relaxing sitting in the hammock under the pavilion

Lara relaxing in the hammock under the pavilion

Lara relaxing in the hammock under the pavilion

Siubhan standing next to the pavilion at night

Siubhan standing next to the pavilion at night

Siubhan standing next to the pavilion at night