Roots architecture pictures from 2011

Roots Architecture 2011

picture from roots architecture 2011Round Two of Roots Architecture at WOMAD's Charlton Park was a sizeable leap into knowing what folks were doing compared to the first year. There were both old and new teams, and equally excitingly a whole new workshop presence pitching up in the shape of Electric Pedals and Cycletricity, who powered the stage, when we finally got to the finale evening performances. Participant numbers mushroomed in the twelve months from the first and the 2011 workshops.

tangentfield, Fourth Door's Roots Architecture partners, had devised what they envisaged as a Structural Game of Consequences, a monster creature connecting all four teams together. For tangentfield this was about each team negotiating with each other on exactly where each structures joined each other – Berlin based newcomers, arch-art actionists Folke Kobberling and Martin Kaltwasser decided to use a tractor-trailer as the (mechanical) heart of their structure. Old boys TYIN decided on a full participatory strategy while Bamboo Jack and cohort created a will walk through and Architecture Sans Frontieres made a long pallet based tail.

Already on site during the week leading up to WOMAD Bill Flinn from Architecture Sans Frontiers' and Oxford Brookes Center for Emergency and Development Practice had built a timber frame house, similar to those he's worked on in emergency projects in Sumatra after the 2006 Pacific tsunami.

Download Fourth Door's Roots Architecture Info-Sheet

Download 2011 poster series:

(one to three: courtesy tangentfield)

Treehugger ran a nice overview of the fun and festivities

You can find features on and by TYIN , Bill Flinn and (yes!) Roots Architecture in the new Fourth Door Review 9

After the workshop we asked three of 2011’s participants to reflect on their four days with Roots Architecture. Here’s what they said….

JapanJulie Hall Hall - The student

"Alone, armed with my tent, small bag of tools and backpack I arrived at WOMAD's Charlton Park site. A colourful setting, relatively small, with a strong family vibe and laid-back charm. Despite its small size I was pleased to eventually find the RAW camping area and erect my temporary home and unload my heavy possessions amongst my fellow peers. We made our way to the RAW site and seated under an impressive wooden masked structure received our run down for the forthcoming weekend. We were introduced to the rest of the team, various architects, designers and makers within the industry and quickly given our brief; to build a stage ready for a range of performances on the final night of the festival. We were randomly split into four groups, each responsible for a segment of the stage and assigned two mentors to offer much needed guidance and assistance. A range of recycled and junkyard style materials were available with which to build our stages and tools were also provided. Together our group came up with a rough idea of the planned design using sketches and only minimal disagreements. A nominated speaker was then tasked with presenting the idea to the rest of the group in order to secure the desired materials. With only a few days with which to build we got stuck in pretty quickly, working together we soon fell into our individual roles. Drinks and refreshments throughout the day were provided and each day a generous healthy lunch met with everyone's approval. Whilst we worked a small stage had been erected by the entrance to the RAW site where passing festival goers were free to perform; the favourites were then chosen to perform on our finished stage on the Sunday. It was a fantastic accompaniment whilst we worked, under sunny blue skies, listening to the various performers singing, dancing, reciting poetry and telling jokes. Each day was hard work but very rewarding and evenings were free to get involved with the festivities. I had been slightly apprehensive about coming alone but surrounded by open, warm people I soon found friends with which to spend some time. Womad itself is an eclectic festival with plenty to see and do… even the porta loos were clean! The final day brought with it a real sense of achievement; it was magical to watch the various artists and musicians performing on our stages. Each stage had something unique, beautifully illuminated by night; they linked together (virtually) seamlessly. I got a good introduction to the basic handy man skills, how to use various tools and the safety regulations to be considered when building. It was great to work alongside like-minded people and share ideas, skills and contacts. RAW left me wanting MORE… thank you and see you again next year!

Julie Hall Hall is studying design at Brighton University

JapanAlex Thomas – the architect

4 days at Roots Architecture proved an enlightening and deep learning experience, with my preconceptions extinguished by the end of the first forage in the recycling heap.

As a trained architect it challenged the very process of architectural design, which over a weekend is a sizable achievement after 10 years of ingrained training. Set with the task of constructing a performance stage that would form the basis of a Sunday night ‘micro festival’, a mixed group of volunteer and participants divided into groups and launched into the process of foraging, experimenting and adaptation.

Our own proposal went from ‘Repunzel’s tower’ to a ‘Palette Tree’, and finally finishing as the ‘Circle of Truss’; the head of the performance stages and a timber ‘show hoop’ of sorts, formed from packing crates and cables drums. The creative process that that took us there was completely fluid, something that typified the qualities of Roots Architecture. As an architect, this process can often be overly precious, with an idea or initial design protected and coveted deep into the design stages. Somehow WOMAD provided a backdrop that promoted a freedom of ideas, without being constricted by conformity, style or cost.

Ideas evolved and branched off on tangents, brought back in line by a team discussion, before spiralling off on ever more speculative paths. It was free and fast paced, and called for ingenuity and ambition. These are qualities inherent to design which somehow get lost in the more sedate professional world, and yet were preserved ‘loud and clear’ within the-lo tech approach at WOMAD.

Tethering these more whimsical aspects of ‘Roots’ was the low-tech approach that is an overriding quality of the festival. Finding a coherency in the recycled materials was key to the success of the projects. It required a level of practicality and rationale, and self edited the evolution of the designs.

Materials were used for their inherent qualities, yet transformed through their application.This highlighted how clever design can bring a beauty to even the poorest of materials; an innovative fixing detail for example, or a carefully considered patterned layout.

The short build time therefore not only dispelled any preciousness in the construction, but also promoted a very lucid evolution from drawing board to finished article. In this, the design became a fulfilling, enlightening and extremely enjoyable process.

Alex Thomas works at FieldenFowles Architects, and was a volunteer on the Lake Bunyonyi school project in Uganda, initiated by the Richard Fielden Foundation.

JapanTYIN's Andreas Gjertsen and Yashar Hanstad - The architectural guests and team leaders

With our background in projects in areas where resources are limited, the task of finding meaningful exercises of architectural training in affluent European countries seems nearly impossible. An exception to this is Roots Architecture, a good example of how to bring design and pragmatic problem solving together and is closely related to the kind of work we have been doing for the last couple of years. The main task of Roots Architecture is clear – to build a useful structure with materials of low esteem and value, designed and implemented by young architects, students and other participants.

The value of these kinds of experiments is quite obvious to us. Not only does it give architects and students much needed learning experiences in building and practical design, the result also serves a purpose. Usually, the participants make designs that are made on paper, and stays on paper. The process of building is only remotely connected to practice.

When our design choices have real life consequences, we get a greater understanding of what good design really is all about. The actual challenges don’t lie in shape and concepts, but in the relation between architectural knowledge and practical solutions. The contemporary architect of today is to a great extent seen as aesthetic consultants, to often be disregarded in the building process due to the lack of knowledge and insight in how designs are actually built.

Even though the Roots Architecture initiative happens in a corner of a festival, the learning experience the participants receive is directly related to the development of our built future.