Rui from Universidade do Porto studying Landscape Architecture
Who am I? Hello, my name is Rui Bernardes! I am 23 years old and I live in Rio Tinto, Gondomar, Portugal. I am currently finishing a master’s thesis in Landscape Architecture at the University of Porto. Besides, I work as a 3D designer/artist in a decorative art company. In addition, I am the current president and founder of the Association APT3D.
Quarantine and Layoff This abrupt change in our routines influenced my workspace, as well as conditioned my educational path. I am now quarantined, surrounded by the environment of my room, and watching the news of what was the beginning of Portugal in a state of calamity. This stress and urgency that I started to witness, especially having two parents working in the health field, led me to the decision to try to look for solutions and embark on initiatives that could combat the Covid-19 situation that Portugal was beginning to enter into.
Research projects The “Openair” initiative that emerged in March aroused my curiosity. I introduced myself on the network as a 3D Designer because I believed I had the necessary tools to be able to help in the creation of individual protection equipment or other instruments that could in any way help in the fight against Covid-19. I was quickly directed to the “Helpful Engineering” Working Group. I began to realize that within the project there was some difficulty in communication between different working groups. I ended up deciding to create a more individual and proactive route at the national level.
Be Proactive I used my knowledge of geographic information systems, acquired in my academic training, and outlined a project to search for individuals in Portuguese territory that could have the advanced knowledge in 3D design, 3D printing, and production management. I decided to implement a system of forms in which your data was converted to a coordinated position in a map of the Portuguese territory. It was with this communication and design strategy that I reached, via social media, 700 volunteers interested in supporting my initiative, who shared and were interested in establishing a working group and differentiated production of individual protection equipment in national territory. These volunteers quickly moved on to the production of visors, as we believed there was a potential for direct user protection. Thus, the production of this material would be strictly sent to entities that were fighting directly or could be more frequently in contact with possible COVID-19 patients. The delivery would have to be made in a democratic way for the entire national territory and islands, thus being able to reach more fronts to combat Covid-19. Visors were produced all over the country! During production, a platform was integrated so that all producers of these materials could review their production data, quality, as well as being within a communication platform where they received help and were motivated by sharing their work via Instagram or Facebook.
Given the number of volunteers, a name for the project had to be established. This project became an association, APT3D, Portuguese 3D Association, which facilitated communication strategies, requests, and representation with companies. We established contacts with distribution companies, such as DPD and DHL, who donated their services to collect and deliver at a national level all the material that was being produced. All that stuff was subsequently collected to the TAP (Portuguese airline) facilities, where production quality control was obtained, as was the disinfection of all materials before delivery. We had thus controlled the entire system: the volunteers who did not need to leave the house during the state of emergency. The entities were receiving "certified" and clean material (the fear of contagion with material that was not sterilized was essential care). With my father infected with Covid-19, all care was necessary, never being able to assume that I was not infected. A very embraced motto by APT3D.
How did I deal with my university career? In parallel, as a university student, I have been developing a thesis that is also part of the problem of being quarantined. As a landscape architect, it is important, in design, to be in permanent contact with space being designed. Only in this way can there be a symbiosis between the space and the designer. But… what if suddenly we can no longer be in contact with the project site? We are no longer able to use our senses to assess the potential of a landscape. This is a problem that arises for me due to COVID-19: I am quarantined, and I no longer have the potential for dialogue and experience of space, essential for the work I was doing.
Working around problems I end up taking advantage of this problem and making it a challenge. And if, somehow, you manage to be in a landscape, in a project location, a park, a garden, urbanization, without ever being present in it? What are the instruments/tools around me (within the scale of the four walls of a room), that can help me reach the project space? I decided to redefine the theme of the thesis and start talking about "Methodology for Remote Project" in the discipline of Landscape Architecture, that is, how to be able to design a space and dialogue with people without ever being present in that place. It has been a very tasty and interesting challenge to work with. I can already say that yes, it is possible. Some various tools and instruments allow us to dialogue and get to know the landscape very closely. I believe that the methodology I am developing can be applied to a wide range of study areas and work, allowing any architect to be close to a project site that can be next to their home or elsewhere in the world, without ever having visited it. A methodology that I believe can help provide opportunities to any architect, in any economic range, in any corner of the world, to be able to be present in the project development. A methodology that embraces the concept of project for all and that can be a new tool to make project execution accessible to any individual. I owe the idea of this thesis theme to the mandatory quarantine that I had to do in my room. Without this problem that was imposed, I would never have circumvented it with a solution.
A final message I had the opportunity to learn several tools that influenced and changed the way I socialize and manage my work. I experienced the knowledge sharing of many people who made me believe that everything is possible and if we want something, we can get it.
Based on these two great opportunities, I took a big step in technological evolution, in new learnings and concepts. I realized that there is a need for human beings to have time to think, to have time to stop, conceptualize, and abstract. This is the most precious time, time that is often taken from us due to precarious work situations. Knowledge is the best form of protest to combat these situations.