Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo is ranked among the top 3 architecture schools in the country, emphasizing a “learn by doing” educational experience that encourages students to think creatively through hands-on projects. Recently, Cal Poly architecture student Travis Van’t Hul designed and built an impressive public bench as part of his architectural thesis, for which he received a 2014-2015 Architecture Thesis Award! When selecting materials for the project, the most important factors Travis considered were sustainability and longevity. He was therefore drawn to Cali Bamboo’s BamDeck® composite decking for it’s durability (BamDeck is more than 3x as strong as other composites) and its eco-friendly composition (BamDeck is made from 60% recycled bamboo fibers and 40% recycled HDPE plastic). The bench was constructed with 600 linear feet of Coffee BamDeck® Solid composite decking, in addition to steel, redwood sleepers, and fasteners stripped from an unfinished project. The awesome bench was recently completed last month and is now a permanent fixture near the Architecture building of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus. It has even become one of the stops for the Cal Poly campus tours!
“The aim of the project was to revitalize a barren concrete courtyard situated along a major pedestrian pathway,” said Travis. “Occasionally, outdoor studio reviews and basketball games would occur, yet without any accommodation students would sit on the ground, lean against the wall, or simply spend little time there before becoming uncomfortable. Since the completion of the bench, students have been excited to engage the project, whether to work or to play, and it has brought life back into this space.”
Travis designed and constructed the entire project himself with advice from his professor Jonathan Reich. “When I was working with the decking I was treating it as regular wood so I was cutting it with the table-saw, chop-saw, hand-saws, sanding it, routing it, drilling, etc. and it really performed great with everything I threw at it,” he says. Travis chose to route the grooves a little bit deeper to insert LED strip lighting set on a timer that kicks on every night from 8pm-6am.
The project has also been entered into a number of competitions and awards programs including the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. We would like to congratulate Travis and wish him the best of luck as he applies his experience and passion in architecture to his future profession!