Cocabot makes complex cool
How do you transform a complex seismic engineering concept from dry and incomprehensible, to something fun and accessible to all? Creativity...and lots of it.
Three students from Massey University's School of Design were challenged to create a light-hearted short video clip to explain the cutting-edge seismic engineering behind the University’s new College of Creative Arts (CoCA) building in Wellington.
The building uses the EXPAN building system, made up of post-tensioned timber beams which provide a controlled rocking mechanism, and laminated veneer lumber timber components that give strength without weight to minimise acceleration loads caused by ground shaking. This innovative design means a building remains structurally sound in the event of a major earthquake.
Michele Hollis, from Massey’s Communications Team commissioned the video. She says the idea was to showcase the talents of the young people at Massey’s School of Design.
“We gave them the technical explanation from the engineer, then let them loose, and Cocabot was the result.”
That explanation came from Consultant Engineer on the project, Alistair Cattanach, who compared the technology to a push-puppet toy that stretches and springs back to shape.
And so students Leo Chida, Nikko Hull and Ly Nguyen were set on their creative path for the 40-second video.
Working in Open Lab, where Massey’s emerging designers learn to work on real life projects, they took the push-puppet analogy, and added their creative flair to explain the building’s trailblazing seismic engineering.
Nikko believes creative arts should be deeply involved in communicating technical ideas – with plenty of examples online showing how popular it is to combine visual design with complex ideas and concepts.
“How many people have been put off something because of technical jargon and boring imagery? On the other side, how many people have been attracted to new ideas through animation and visual communication?”.
And there’s been a great response to the little blue robotic communicator.
“The people I've talked to all really enjoyed it. We were pressed for time but we were happy with how it turned out,” Nikko says.
Watch the video below or at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BuSr0VphtQ