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Design Students Help to Build University's First Cob Oven

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A traditional earth, or ‘cob’, oven has been built within the University of Worcester’s allotment, giving students the opportunity to “cook the fruits of their labour”.

The project is part of a new, small-scale covered 'student social space' that is being created on the University’s student allotment by a partnership of students, university staff and outside partners, such as regional building experts, Envirotech Building Services, and builders’ merchants, Keyline Worcester.

Expert help and guidance was also given to students during the oven’s build by owner and operator of the Herefordshire-based 'Fabulous Cob Oven Company', Matthew Lloyd.

Katy Boom, Director of Sustainability at the University, said: “This is a fantastic project which has resulted in different groups of campus users coming together as well as providing an amazing legacy. Allotment users will be able to cook the fruits of their labour on site, cooked from a renewable heat source, wood, provided by the University grounds team who manage trees on campus.”

Students studying Green & Sustainable Design module on the University’s Graphic Design & Multimedia course donated their time to help build the oven. The same group of students are also in the process of creating an 'eHandbook' to help their fellow students and allotment users, and school and care farm teams who visit campus and share these facilities. The student group are also creating working 3D concepts for a new wipe-clean, multi-use pizza box/plate too.

Senior Design Lecturer, Andy Stevenson, who developed the Green Design module, said: “This has been another fantastic ‘live’ project for the students to both design for as well as also taking an active part in with the cob oven build itself.

“This project very much ties in with a theme we’ve been developing on the Graphic Design course for some time now which aims to help local and regional community organisations where we aim to use ‘design for social good’. This aims to partner our students’ growing skillsets with the communication design challenges of our regional partners.”

Belynda Peters, a third year student on the Graphic Design and Multimedia course, added: “Having a cob oven on the University site will be a great communal space for a wide verity of social groups. It will also hopefully encourage the curiosity of people to cook their own food in a more healthily and environmentally conscious manner. I loved having the chance to get my hands dirty and take part in the build of the oven as well as the supporting designs. Getting away from a computer screen for a couple of days and interacting with fellow students (and tutor Andy, of course), was a pleasure that set a cheerful spirit for the future of the cob oven.”

Envirotech’s Project Manager, Richard Glover, added: “We always like to be involved with other projects and offer help where ever we can. We hope to be able to build a long term working relationship with the University and offer help and guidance to both staff and students.”