Woo! Fourth Door Research's Roots Architecture at WOMAD this last july was one of those event-happenings which you look back on, and think, "that was just great." Though there were a nervy moment or two at the outset of the four workshop days - the most alarming being one half of our special Norwegian guest's TYIN Tegnestue's Andreas Gjertsen being swooped upon by Wiltshire's constabulary and then having to languish in a Wiltshire police station for much the rest of the day while trying to convincingly explain why he was carrying the hunting knife his mother had given him when he joined the local scouts at six years old - the whole thing, the build four stages in four days went swimmingly well.
By sunday the air was thick with exhilaration, excitement and the good vibes thrill of what had been achieved.
Four fantastic stages had sprung up through the collective efforts of the Roots Architecture's Workshop's (RAW) four teams, led, cajoled and enthused by Carpenter Oak and Woodland's founder Charley Brentnall, unreconstructed low impact structure hippie and Bamboo expert, Bamboo Jack Everett, Architecture Sans Frontieres UK's Melissa Kinnear and the TYIN twosome, Andreas and partner Yashar Hanstad. All those who'd signed up for the workshop did so enthusiastically, and with obvious commitment, as did the volunteer students; though the real testament to this shared collaborative weekend was all the work that Fourth Door's partners, Sally and Marcus from tangentfield put in, and continued to do so, all through the four days.
Right at the outset of the four days, an impromptu auditioning stage had been hammered and knocked together and positioned so that anyone passing along one of the main drag pathways in and out of the main Womad performance area could sign up to do their performing thang. And they did, in buckets!
On saturday there were 50 or so performances ranging from five year olds telling their favourite jokes to musicians who'd come for a time out festival rest, giving ad hoc renditions of some numbers. Passing audience folk came and stayed charmed by the anyone doing their thing buzz.
And by sunday around 20 of just shy of a hundred performances returned to perform on the completed stages.
The Roots Architecture crew had managed to get hold of some pa and low tech lighting, and with the evening light dimming, RAW's very own micro-festival was away.
The stages looked fab, and the evening climaxed true to the spirit of the whole weekend with a completely magical yet wholly last minute and improvised duet between North London festival chanteuse Lori Campbell and local beat boxer maestro Rory. By the end all of us were completely flying.
4 stages in 4 days in 2 minutes !
Safe Concerts are wholly favourable
"Earlier in the evening the Roots Architecture area had finished the four imaginative stages they had been building all day and a number of performances took place as the stages were launched. The stages were great and atmospheric creating their own festival vibe, it was the inclusive nature of this area that made it special and the number of acts performing all weekend long, a very appealing part of WOMAD's diverse range of inclusive activities."
Leonora Oppenheim’s blog likes it
“Fantastic pallet stage being built at WOMAD by Norwegian studio Tyin with the Fourth Door Review Roots Architecture project.”
As does UK Festival Guides
“This year saw the start of RAW – Roots architecture workshops, where people can get involved in helping to design and build creative and innovative stages out of sustainable materials, working in four teams the final evening saw witness to some very unique and memorable performances on these incredible structures.”
And a very positive mention in the Financial Times WOMAD review round-up
“Roots Architecture at Womad, most ambitiously, saw four teams build their own stages over the course of the weekend from bamboo or old pallets: in spite of a hiccup when a Norwegian woodworker was arrested for carrying a knife, the stages were upright and ready to host a mini-festival of their own on Sunday night.”
While Matthew Linley blogged that Roots Architecture is a cool concept
“Best idea - Roots architecture – where four groups built brand new stages to be performed on the Sunday night. Developed by Fourth Door and tangentfield the project produced some beautiful and clever structures.”
Roots Architecture and Fourth Door Review
As well as being a fantastic context for hands-on building and making, Roots Architecture is also about connecting the world culture WOMAD has pioneered highlighting, with that of the growing international architectural network working in the developing world on basic core humanitarian and post-disaster projects.
Roots Architecture prequels a significant feature in the next edition, Fourth Door Review, which will look at some of those focused in this field. Along with Shigeru Ban, there are contributions from Anna Heringer, Jenni Reuter from the Finnish all-woman HollmenReuterSandman practice, and from Trondheim's TYIN Tegnestue. Further features include interviews with Burkino Faso architect, Francis Kere and Architecture for Humanity founder, Cameron Sinclair, plus other interesting pieces.
In the meantime and aftermath of Womad, in part because of the number of people asking for information, in part because this is what we're like, here's the first iteration of Fourth Door's Humanitarian and Emergency architecture information and links page.
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