A Car Made of Cars: the Suame Magasine, Kumasi with Set Up Shop
Photo: "A Car made out of Cars" hood ornament, made from melted down car parts in the Suame Magasine. Cynthia Hathaway
With students of the Rietveld designLAB, and the Painting and Sculpture Department of the KNUST University in Kumasi, Ghana, I was invited to participate in the initial design research phase of the African Car project of Set Up Shop (led by Melle Smets and Joost van Onna) to support initial design research for a car made in the largest open air auto factory/community of the Suame Magasine. In the Magasine 200,000+ artisans with 12,000 shops are dedicated to the reuse of tons of used automobile parts imported from Europe. One of the goals of Set Up Shop was to see how to build a concept car from a variety of car brands, with local artisans and to kick-start an earlier attempt 50 years ago of local car production. Using Action Research, Smets and van Onna started from scratch, working in context, mapping an informal network and community practice of social and economic transactions. Blessed by the King of the Ashanti, Otumfuo Osei Tutu ll, the Smati Turtle is an enormous achievement by local and international parties. Please see www.setupshop.eu for more detailed information about this incredible project and the film below produced by Aardschap (in Dutch but you can get the "jist"). That's us at .39 secs.
With the research studies done in the Suame by KNUST Art and Engneering students and Rietveld DesignLab students, initial automotive ideas were conceived, from logos devised from Ashanti symbols, vegetable and palm oil engines, seat designs and cars that transform into mobile offices and shops. Design Lab students, Stijn van Kervel, Bob Vos and Lukas Wolzak produced a number of objects focused on making "car parts from cars". With Suame casting and molding experts, sewers, pattern makers, metal benders, furnace technicians, and mechanics of the Suame Magasine, steering wheels, car logos, ventilators, car seats, storage bags and cooking pots for the car engine were made from various automotive materials and parts. For the casting of many of the items, we used one of the many the local furnaces normally producing non-automotive articles such as grinding disks for agriculture and mining products from melted down car, bus and truck engines and other automotive parts. Students saw the opportunity for the Suame Magasine to make "car parts out of cars" as a feasible option to the glut of imported and expensive automotive parts coming from Asia.
Thank you to Set Up Shop Team (Melle Smets and Joost van Onna), SMIDO, ITTU, KNUST University and Professor Kwaku Boafo Kissiedu and his participating students of the Painting and Sculpture Department, and the Rietveld Academy. And of course, all the wonderful artisans of the Suame Magasine.
International press links in English :
Final design of the Turtle Truck, designed by Melle Smets and built from scratch by the artisans of the Suame Magasine out of numerous car parts.