Hand tools and fabrication machines
Our project consists of an add-on feature to the “landfill” trashcan bordering Dwinelle Plaza. The add-on box is designed to be a space to leave left-over food and/or food donations to the homeless population that frequent the trash can in order to scour for food.
With a sleek, clean design and a door that opens with the food inside it, we hope it provides a more dignified and easier way for the homeless population to receive food. With our box, the problem of food waste associated with the lack of compost bins in this heavily populated area can also diminish or disappear, creating an eco-friendlier option than the “landfill” bin.
While it is designed to be utilitarian for the reasons outlined above, it can also become more interactive or more of a commentary on Berkeley’s treatment of the homeless population. Depending on the interactions with the box, rather than being solely a food bank, the box can be used as a means of direct communication with the homeless through other means and/or objects. It can also spark a discussion surrounding food waste and the prevalence of a homeless population on campus that will be documented through use of “#UCBFeedsTheHomeless” on social media.
Rather than having a team or person appointed to maintaining the box, we want to see if UC Berkeley, as a collective, can maintain the upkeep and documentation of the box and discussion. If successful, we can produce more in other college campuses with their own respective hashtags and create a large-scale discussion on treatment of the homeless population and the anomaly of the existence of hunger and food waste.
For our area, we chose the walking space between Dwinelle Plaza, Sather Gate and Wheeler Hall. We focused in on the landfill trash can bordering Dwinelle Plaza. This space is located approximately half a mile southwest of Jacobs Hall.
We observed the area at noon, during the afternoon, and at nighttime. During each observation, we noticed: The area is a space where multiple interactions occur: pedestrians, tourists, performers, solicitors (people handing out fliers), and, most notably, the homeless, who hang around the plaza and often sift through the trash bins. The area is highly dense around midday, but will experience intervals of high density when classes are let out. Most pedestrians walking through the area were on their phones, had headphones on, or were holding something in their hands. Because of the absence of directional rules and set paths in the space, people walked through the space haphazardly and randomly, but navigated the space in a manner that avoided collisions.
On occasion, a golf cart or motor vehicle would drive through the area. Additionally, although the space is a designated “no bike zone” during specific hours of the day, several people biked through the area. Chatter among pedestrians and street sounds drowned out the sounds of Strawberry Creek and other natural life. There weren’t many notable smells during our observations other than the smell of gas from vehicles passing through the area.
From our observations, some objects of significant interest in the space included: the no walk zone sign barricade, bike racks, manhole covers, air vents, lampposts with banners, trashcans, planters, railings, and Sather Gate.
Our step-by-step making process:
After designing the box by pen & paper and rendering our design in Adobe Illustrator, we gathered materials to build the box. Our materials included: 1/8 in. x 4 ft. x 4 ft. plywood, 24 in. x 12 in. clear acrylic, a bracket, hinges and screws. Our tools included a laser cutter, dremel, jigsaw cutter, hot glue gun, drill, level, file, and ruler.
We started the building process by dividing our 1/8 in. x 4 ft. x 4 ft. piece of plywood into 32 in. x 18 in. pieces that would fit the laser cutter bed. Using pencil, we marked three 32 in. x 18 in. rectangles on the plywood surface. After securing the plywood to the table using clamps, we used a Jigsaw cutter to cut the wood into the smaller pieces and a file to smooth out any rough edges.
We adjusted our Illustrator files to account for the laser cutter bed size limits by fitting our model pieces onto three 32 in. x 18 in. artboards. Once we had our three 32 in. x 18 in. pieces, we laser cut our box.
With our cut pieces, we assembled the body of our box by aligning the t-slots accordingly and gluing the pieces together using a hot glue gun. We started by gluing the left side piece to the back piece, and proceeded to glue on the adjacent pieces, until the whole body was constructed.
To assemble the shelf, we used 4 small wood squares we had cut out from doing test cuts on our wood material in the laser cutter to act as shelf holders. We marked where we wanted the shelf to sit on the insides of the box, approximately 6 in. above the bottom of the box. We then glued 2 wood squares to each interior side of the box at the points where we marked where we wanted the shelf to sit, one square closer to the back of the box and the other closer to the opening. We then placed the shelf piece to sit on the wood squares. To make sure the shelf was level, we used a level measuring tool and adjusted the shelf level by dabbing extra hot glue onto the wood squares.
To assemble the door, we reduced our 24 in. x 12 in. acrylic into a 15 in. x 12 in. piece using the laser cutter. Once we had the acrylic piece, we peeled off the protective layers, and glued the acrylic to the back of the door piece.
We attached the door to the box body using decorative hinges. To install the hinges, we screwed the hinges to the outside left face of the box body, flush with its back edge. The opposite side of the hinges were set onto the front left of the door and screwed in place. We used a dremel to buff the screws because they were longer than the thickness of the wood and stuck out, preventing the door from closing fully.
To facilitate ease of opening and closing, we drilled two holes on the top right side of the door and looped a piece of rope through the holes and knotted its ends to create a door handle of sorts.
Finally, we hot glued a bracket to the back of the box approximately 6 in. from the top of the box to allow us to secure the box to a trashcan.