Architecture that makes a difference

The Mobile Fishing Station

Stuart Johnson and the Mobile Fishing Station

While driving near Spring Lake, in western Michigan, Stuart Johnson noticed a disturbing sight:  a man fishing off of a vehicular bridge, dangerously close to traffic.  Stuart’s research revealed that this was a common practice among seasonal workers, who fish not for sport, but to provide themselves with food.  Furthermore, Stuart determined that the property around many local lakes and streams has fallen under owned private ownership.  With few places where free fishing can take place, it is becoming more expensive for the less wealthy (such as temporary laborers) to travel to fishing destinations. As a result, many such individuals are forced to fish either from the bridge, or on the nearby rip-rap.  Neither location proves to be safe and ideal.

Stuart’s solution was to create The Mobile Fishing Station.  The purpose of this fishing station is to provide a safe and easily deploy-able system that can provide a fishing location on any waterway. This would reduce travel distances to reach a suitable fishing location, reducing the cost of food and securing food safely.  Stuart outlined a number of requirements for the project: space to store the fish in water so that they stay fresh while still fishing, easy cleaning, storage for all fishing equipment, a quick and easy leveling system for uneven surfaces, and easy transportability.

In developing prototypes of the Mobile Fishing Station, Stuart relied heavily on the use of re-purposed or scrap materials, as the intended users would need to construct their own platforms on a meager budget. He utilized discarded bicycle tires and tensioned seat belts he found at an junkyard as major components of the design.  This project marked a significant departure for Stuart.  The son of a practicing architect, Stuart found himself needing to explain to his father, and others, that what he was doing was indeed architecture, and meaningful architecture at that.

Concept sketches

The fishing station really is a challenge of transporting and storing the fishing station.  When deployed the fishing station may need to be located on private property then camouflaged or removable within minutes.  The spatial requirements for the fishing station are driven by the mobility and weight of the project.  As Stuart acknowledged at the final presentation, he is advocating what some might consider illegal activity.  But in his mind, what is ‘right’ was a greater concern than what is ‘legal’.  The fishing station is intended to reclaim water rights to reduce the cost of fishing, helping people feed themselves and their families.

(entry includes excerpts from Stuart’s final presentation)

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