Thursday, July 26, 2012

26/07/12 Building the Airport Seat

Everyone who has visited the base so far should know the good old Bus Stop; a crude but well-loved structure that is, as its name suggests, a covered bench. Well, despite the affection we all feel for it, it cannot be denied that the Bus Stop has a few problems. First of all it should protect from the rain, which has become more and more frequent over the last few weeks, but unfortunately it is not waterproof. The second thing to note is that only three people, of course it depends on their size, fit comfortable in the Bus Stop. For about 30 volunteers plus staff members this is of course too few. However, during a quiet day on base, Markus and Matt (two dedicated yet clueless volunteers when it comes to construction) decided to build a new Bus Stop. Naturally, this was only the project name because the new Bus Stop was going to be bigger, better and far superior in every way to the previous effort.
Their first task was to examine and assess the available materials. Luckily, Philippe, the groundskeeper, was around and provided parts for the roof and the backrest. The rest could be scavenged, begged for or simply reclaimed from other structures. Having accomplished this, the next challenge was to draw up designs  for the complicated build process. The actual plan for the Bus Stop was a simple drawing consisting of about 10 lines. For experienced builders like these two this was enough because the final result was already firmly in their heads.  With the materials and the vision in place, construction could begin in earnest.
First of all, the timber and sheet metal had to be prepared; all nails had to be removed, old constructions had to be dismantled and so on and so on. After this exhausting work, the actual build could start. The two masterminds decided on a modular construction. The first two modules were the backrest and the actual bench. The next parts to be constructed were the side mountings on which everything was to be fixed, which were perhaps the most crucial element of The Airport (I think that we can use the final name from now on). After this precarious and delicate stage of proceedings, the two craftsmen (cowboy builders) had to further demonstrate their talent for balancing aesthetics against functionality as they had to decide the angle and height of the bench, the angle and height of the backrest and last but not least the height of the roof. After they finished the frame of the roof everything was assembled in a carefully though through order. Because of the very unstable construction so far lots of supporting parts were added to survive all possible disasters like Tsunamis, Hurricanes, bull attacks and multiple people sleeping on the bench at once. The final result was nothing short of unshakeable.
 This left it ready for The Grand Opening, scheduled for the 12th of July 2012. Because we were lacking government officials or local sport stars (apart from Matt obviously) we decided that Chris should cut the ribbon. Unfortunately he was not around due to important engagements elsewhere but our lovely dive instructor Emily took his place and gave an unforgettable and tear jerking speech. After the long and arduous build the two main labourers (with cold beers in hand) were all too happy to cut the ribbon together, of course with the local ribbon cutter, a machete.
This work could not have been possible without the sporadic and often worse than useless help (I joke; some were occasionally helpful) of the fellow volunteers and Markus and Matt would like to thank them accordingly:
Leah for the construction of the armrests;
Mai for documentation and painting;
Faris for small bit of painting;
Afnan for an even smaller bit of painting;
Dan (professional carpenter) for being the consultant and for not pointing out too many of the boys stupid mistakes;
Chris (the South African rugby player) for helping to shift the gargantuan structure around;
Emily for the speech;