I don’t think I’ve ever learned as much from any single class as I have from this design build experience. This is because every screw we drill, every piece of metal we spray paint, and (most importantly) every mistake we make is a new experience and thus a new learning opportunity. At this point we are nearing completion except for the twisted rebar trellis and a few other elements that have to be accomplished on site, such as hanging doors, making things fit, etc. In a typical day it seems that we accomplish many small tasks very quickly and one or two big tasks very very slowly. It all comes back to the learning process though; pretty much every task starts off agonizingly slow but as the team working on it begins to understand the necessary procedure things get faster.
For example, today we finally begun erecting the part of the structure that I have been most eagerly anticipating. This is the twisting rebar trellis that provides a screen along the West and South facades of the building. However, after almost a full days work on the trellis, we only actually managed to put up 1/8th of what we need to. And yet, I feel confident that tomorrow we can finish the rest of it in 2-3 hours, because now I have internalized the methodology involved in the task of putting up the trellis screen. A lot of what it comes down to is being able to train your eyes to each new task so that you don’t have to spend as much time using measuring instruments or jigs to get something exact. Basically, building things on site (especially in the time crunch of these last few days) requires learning a different type of sight.
We had a lot of issues pouring concrete for the planter beds at first, because our formwork simply couldn’t hold up the weight of the concrete. We had to add a lot more bracing, but by this point we had already made a lot of the mistakes that we needed to make regarding setting the formwork level so we managed to use the bracing to help us keep things square and level. Once again, being able to adapt to that situation in a more efficient manner then before is just due to being able to constantly learn from past attempts.