Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Day by Day Hellowood Journal

Wednesday, July 13 - arrived at Hellowood around 6:30pm. On the drive we watched a large storm developing around us. At 7:10pm the storm erupted with golf-ball sized hail. A very unusual storm, said everyone who was from Hungary. After the storm I walked up to the building sites to get a feel for what areas were available. It was very clear that the "ruin" that was located on the maps was a foundation of a center-door pass-though barn.

Thursday, July 14 - Martin, Lucas, and I walked up to the building site and chose the barn ruin as our site, We saw a large black snake in the field. Students arrived at at 1:00pm. We met with our team and walked up to the site. The truck of wood arrived at 8:54. Everyone unloaded. In the evening we had a lecture on Plato and Greek city planning - a presentation that was good, but did not have enough images of Greek cities. It was very cold.

Friday, July 15 - started digging post holes at 9:30am. everyone else went to a tool safety meeting for two hours. Our goal of the day was to get one "bent" up. Martin, Lucas, and Raya participated in the two hour site planning meeting. We were allowed to keep our site that we had already started digging post holes on. Risky but worked out. Began cleaning the foundation of the ruin. Set the smallest bent in the ground. Notified that storm was coming. Moved all our wood again to protect it from rain. Project presentations were given by each team. Balkan Brothers band played under the tent next to our site. First big party.

Saturday, July 16 - day was rained out. At 10:00am we held the evening lectures in the barn. I went up to the site and cut 26 joints in our 2m and 3m posts with Saba and Attila, which foreshadowed the week to come. Martin and Lucas met with the rest of the team to work through our wood allocation and to begin the design of out fire/altar space. During the evening we had four more lectures, and then another party with Mongoose and the Magnet playing in the barn.

Sunday, July 17 - still raining and damp. Cut wood, dug post holes, and cleaned foundation of ruin all day. Started burning the ends of our posts with the people from "Play with Fire." Everyone worked under the tent with all teams working on top of each other.

Monday, July 18 - Day 5. Super big work day. Lifted bent 2 then bent 1. Everything cancelled so teams could work all day. After dinner we worked through the night filling in post holes. Started our first fire at the site, 40 people hung out. Worked on the site until 3am. Attila and Ania glued and screwed the 9m ridge beam together

Tuesday, July 19 - Woke to find wall very skewed. Lucas dug out the post holes and we reset the posts using a string line. Erected "bell tower" and 2m deck. Big work day. Lectures during the evening. My lecture was last. I spoke at midnight.

Wednesday, July 20 - big work day. Started work at 7:30am  Erected double posts on the front elevation. Placed double posts for the ridge beam supports. Lots of meetings about the ridge beam. Thought crane was coming early afternoon. Worked to get ridge beam supports but had many delays. At dinner time, 7pm, our crane arrived to lift the ridge beam in place. After dinner we set the rock wall bent. Attila would not let us go to bed. Cut and set deck floor joists for 3m deck. Worked until 3am.

Thursday, July 21 - final work day. Started working at 8:30am. set second deck. erected last "white" double post. Installed Shinto gate. Installed final board as the bar on the 3m deck. had to be finished by 4pm. Press interviews. At 6pm all teams walked the site and leaders presented projects. Symposium and round table. First shower in three days. Evening party with band. All projects lit by flood lights. I went to bed at 11pm when I thought the party was winding down. Martin and Lucas went to bed at 4:30am. Others were still up when I awoke for coffee at 7am.

Friday, July 22 - left Hellowood at 2pm. Two hour drive to Stacio Airport Hotel. Did not see anyone up yet or get to say goodbye to anyone from our team.  

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Now that the madness is over, I will probably reflect for a few days on the Hellowood experience. The Hellowood summer camp is a hands-on experiential design and build program that has teaching at the core of its mission.

As a program, it embodies my teaching philosophy and is a large scale version of my work with students and interns.

I was not sure what to expect. In some ways, it felt like we were given a site and a team and then left alone to build our vision. In other ways, it felt like there was a lot of planning and support. Was it our choice to work so many long hours? Was this driven by me or by the team? Or by the combined spirit of all of us to achieve the outcome we invisioned? When we were in the thick of building I never thought of being sore or being tired, and I never thought what we were doing was extrordinary.

Here is my reflection for today, though. We shared a supply of tools with 14 teams. Everyday we had to request the tools we needed. On an average day we had one circular saw, one cordless drill, two wood chisels, one wooden hammer, one tape measure, and one level - and eight architecture students with limited construction experience. With this tool assemblage we built a 6m x 11m timber structure 6 meters high, and erected over 1600 liniar feet of wood. Plus we built by hand, and installed, a 9m glue lam 6m, or 18 feet, in the air. We did the majority of this work in four days.

It is extrordinary that we finished. But it is still more extrordinary what we accomplished.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Goodbye Hellowood

This has been the most physical week I have had since Hurricane Ike on Grand Turk in 2008. I am cut a bruised on both arms, dropped a post on the top of my right foot, got scrapped by a post on the back of my left leg, my hands hurt, fingers swollen, legs sore, blister on my heel. I have taken three showers over the 8 days. I threw away all the t-shirts and socks I brought. They smelled from the rain and sweat. Both my shoulders hurt so bad I have not been able to sleep well for three days.

I booked an airport hotel on Travelocity for the airport shuttle, but did not realize the hotel was a spa. What a great way to end Hellowood. Last night we spent the evening in the hot tub and massage pool. Came back to the room and went to bed at 9am. No lie, I had dreams of building a 6m 10x10cm grid and we just could not get it square and had to keep taking it down and putting it up over and over.

This morning Martin and I tried to write a day by day journal of what it took to build the Alt-Cathedral. The days blur together and we worked so long that sometimes the work we did in the morning feels like it should have been the day before.

Lucas left Hungray at 6am. Martin left at 7:30am. I will be leaving in two hours.

Goodbye Hellowood.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Day 6 Hellowood

It is 3am. Just getting in from the building site. Today was long. I started at 7am. I was sore and tired yesterday. I don't even know what I am today. Hellowood is a lot of work. This morning we set more front walls and this evening our crane arrived and we set our ridge beam.

Tonight, we cut and installed the framing for the 3m deck. I am crazy tired.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hellowood Day Five

Just got back from the building site. It is 3am. Today was a big building day. I was on the site at 7:30am to look at the work we did last night in the dark. We checked out tools at 9am, had lunch on the site and worked till 7pm dinner. Back on the site by 8pm. I also gave my lecture on the history of human evolution tonight. That started at midnight.

Now, I know what you are thinking, but no, I did not talk till 3am. After me was the the Irish fire dancers.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

and Ruin Hellowood

It has been raining for two days. On the first day, Martin, Lucas, and I walked the site and found the perfect place for our installation. It is the foundation ruin of a 16th century barn. The site Hellowood purchased to build Project Village used to be an old hamlet that was all torn down. The only visible remains was this ruin. We have cleaned it off and are incorporating the ruin in and throughout our building.  We have a great team and we are set to make progress when the weather gets good tomorrow.

Ruin bars and Roman ruins

I arrived in Budapest on Saturday and met Lucas at the hotel. Martin arrived a few hours later on Sunday. Everyone got in. We went over our plans for Hellowood, and since then have been exploring the city.

Budapest was founded as a Roman military camp and city but the name of Aquinum. The archaeological ruins can be found all over the city. What is also found today are dozens of Ruin Pubs, or bars established in vacant lots and vacant buildings.

Over the last two days we have seen a lot of both. The Aquinum Museum was built a couple years ago to house the millions of artifacts that have been found. They have a very cool visible storage area with about 100 artifacts on glass shelves. We also toured the archaeology site that has been preserved.

We have also done a pub crawl, sketching and evaluating at least seven ruin pubs. Both aspects of Budapest are intertwined into fabric.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Hellowood - Alt Cathedral

You can see the full proposal here:

The Roman god Janus was depicted as a sculpture with two faces; one face young and the other face old. Therefore, both the Roman city gate and the god represented entry and exit; the past and the future; outside and inside. We often find this duality in the nature of spirituality and community as well. The duality is present in the concepts of gods and mortals, yin and yang, good and evil. Arriving at the city and crossing the threshold separated those who were outside from those who were inside.

Arrival represents the concept to belong. There is celebration. There are our offerings. There is the act of greeting. Of meeting old friends. Of introduction to fellowship. In all communities these rituals of arrival take an architectural form.

We propose to create the Alt-Cathedral, a form representing a type of “alter” for fellowship and belonging. The Alt-Cathedral will incorporate and surround the Sanctuary that was constructed in 2015. The Sanctuary claimed that “all people, regardless of faith, require an outlet for peace, reflection, thought, discussion, and prayer.” We embrace this idea. We build on the exploration of the physical nature of such a space. The Sanctuary will serve as the inward most space of the Alt-Cathedral. The angular planes will be transformed into frames where the names of Hellowood participants can be enshrined. This will be an area where we honor those who came before us.

The cathedral structure built around the Sanctuary will be devoted to spaces for the daily rituals that most small communities practice. The focal area will be the “Alter.” This will serve as a firepit for fellowship. Focus is the Latin word for hearth or fireplace. Traditionally, the hearth is at the center of the community. It is the place of cooking and of sacrifice, or warmth and redemption. It is literally the focal point of the community.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hellowood - Project Village 2016

OK, here goes. I think the "adventure" is going to start again - and I am going to write about it.

I am in Dulles International Airport waiting to board a flight to Budapest, Hungary. I will be leading a workshop at an art and architecture camp called Hellowood, Last year, Lucas attended Hellowood as a junior in the school of architecture at Judson University. We followed his week on Instagram and Facebook. The whole time I wished I could be there.

This year, when the call for proposals was released, Martin called me to say he wanted to submit a project. So, Martin, Lucas, and I submitted a proposal to build an installation called the Alt-cathedral at Hellowood 2016. We were the only US team to be selected and will be one of 14 projects to be built.

Lucas is in Hungary now, preparing our site. I will see him in Budapest tomorrow if all goes well. He has spent the last seven months in London attending the Architectural Association of England.

The projects and schedules were just released. Though Martin did all of the design work, I evidently get all of the credit. I took a screen shot of our project because it makes me so proud.