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Winning proposal for Wood Works curatorial competition announced

17.11.20

‘There is a forest in my backyard but my house is built from trees grown far away’ has been conceived by a team of architects from Estonia and Ireland.

The Estonian Association of Architects (EAA), Estonian Centre for Architecture (ECA) and Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) have announced ‘There is a forest in my backyard but my house is built from trees grown far away’ as the winning proposal of the Wood Works Curatorial Team Competition. 

Wood Works is an Estonian and Irish collaboration that focuses on the use of wood in design and construction in architecture. The result of the Wood Works project will be a travelling exhibition which will be opened at Solstice Art Centre in Ireland at the end of March 2021. The Wood Works project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Enterprise Estonia.

The winning proposal is curated by Estonian-Irish architects team: Aet Ader, Helmi Marie Langsepp and Mari Möldre (all b210 Architects, Tallinn) and St John Walsh (Alder Architects, Dublin).

b210 is an architecture office with a think tank approach to everyday spatial challenges. We believe that positive change in the built environment is driven by a smart design process where architectural ideas are as important as methods of developing them. We like to design ways of thinking as much as physical spaces. 

Alder Architects is a multidisciplinary practice based in Dublin & Cork. We enjoy applying our design skills to projects at all scales focusing on inventive use of materials and light. We place a strong emphasis on collaboration and participation with clients, communities and artists. Commissions to date have included new residential & commercial buildings, extensions to existing structures, workplace design and public installations. 

‘There is a forest in my backyard but my house is built from trees grown far away’
The winning proposal is a call to notice and create variety in a world that is otherwise striving for common standardised values. Timber is often treated similarly to other inanimate building materials, yet each tree is unique, their growth impacted by many factors such as the earth, wind, climate and topography, as well as man. To produce timber elements that are both transportable and modulated for construction, a standardisation process is undertaken, during which a tree is cut back to common increments. 

The curators wish to explore this act of transformation across the life cycle of timber; from extraction to transportation, standardisation to encapsulation in construction, and disassembly for potential reuse. What are the demands of the building industry for wood materials and what are the limitations and opportunities of this? Is such an abstraction necessary for a designer? What opportunity exists to interpret and reuse standardised material extracted from existing sources following deconstruction? 

‘There is a forest in my backyard but my house is built from trees grown far away” aims to be an engaging exhibition featuring a number of themes which will allow exhibitors to respond to this condition across the life-cycle of the material. Speculations will touch on all aspects of the building process itself through workshops facilitating collaboration, exchange and transport of exhibits. The current uncertain status of the world will guide this process, with a physical exchange of models and ideas by post proposed. Here the act of transfer becomes a reflective action and an important part of the exhibition, where the container or vessel is as much an artefact of the process as the contents.

Helmi Marie Langsepp (1992) has worked as an architect within MAP Architects (Denmark), studio, which concentrates on challenges in extreme environments. 

Mari Möldre (1992) has worked as an architect in China, Shanghai (MORE Architecture) and since 2016 is working with b210. 

Aet Ader (1985) is an architect, who was editing architecture magazine Ehituskunst (with Kadri Klementi) for four years and was the vice-president of the Association of Estonian Architects in years 2014-2018. She graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts Faculty of Architecture and also studied in Copenhagen. Aet is one of the founders of the architecture office b210 based in Tallinn, Estonia. She has been part of the design team of Kuressaare College Towing Tank Building and the curatorial team of Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2013: Recycling Socialism. She has been tutoring master thesis students with Katrin Koov and a design studio focused on wilderness and timber for first year students in Estonian Academy of Arts, Faculty of Architecture. In 2018. Aet co-curated with Iwan Strauven an exhibition: BEL:EST. A Laboratory for Europe in Brussels which was exhibited in Bozar, Brussels and TAB, Tallinn. 

St John Walsh (1986) established Alder Architects in 2016 following over 10 years experience working with award winning architecture practices in Ireland and the UK. Having studied in Dublin and Copenhagen, St John graduated from UCD in 2010 with a first class honours degree and continues to be involved in academia. He is a Design Fellow at the UCD School of Architecture and he has previously acted as a visiting critic at UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture and studio mentor at the Royal College of Art London. He is currently undertaking a Research Masters on Design for Disassembly and Reuse of Timber at UCD.