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Bora Floats – Surprises + Successes

by Kirsten Heming, Colleen Clifford, Junzhe Liu, Sophia Austrins, Jacob Peel

What a day! The weather was warm and sunny, the river was cool and calm, the waterfront was buzzing with activity, and there was a shaved ice stand. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

By all measures, our Fruitloop was a success, even though it didn’t turn out quite how we expected. We had to adjust the form to accommodate the behavior of our materials during assembly, but what could have been a setback turned into a moment for creative problem-solving. It was also a great reminder that there’s no substitute for real-time, tactile exploration when you’re working with an unfamiliar material, or creating something you’ve never attempted to build before.

Instead of a hemi-donut, we ended up with something closer to a floating caldera, with an intimate concave center where we could hang out, and an outer rim for more social interactions with our fellow floaters. People were curious, especially parents and their children, and we encouraged them to engage with our vessel – this accessibility to non-architects was one of our measures of success. Next year, we’ll aim to bump up the “audience participation” aspect of our float.

Our collaborative process was more than a means to an end. Working on this float built comradery, and offered more possibilities for discovery, specifically because none of us had done anything quite like this before. Design and fabrication was a horizontal, democratic effort, where everyone’s input was considered without an obvious project leader determining the final direction. There was room for mistakes, trial and error, and disagreement with no hard feelings. And at the end of the day, we were also there to have a good time, doing what we love (designing stuff), in support of a great cause.

We’re already thinking about next year, as well as all the other cool opportunities for design exploration that Portland offers. And we’ve all come away with an appreciation of this process that can be applied to all our work. Stepping outside our zones of expertise and familiarity is always a risk, but it’s also the best catalyst for growth and discovery.

Special shout-outs to the core Fruitloop crew:

Jacob Peel, Marziah Rajabzadeh, Kyle Altman, Sophia Austrins, Colleen Clifford, Junzhe “Leo” Liu, Nick McFadden, Kirsten Heming, Elyssa Kelly, Leina Naversen, Tom Bauer, Karim Hassanein, and Bora Intern Eric Sosa Lesso (good luck at Stanford, Eric!)