Type Site-Specific Spatial Design Year 2018, Soomaa Team: Ko Ai, Tudor Cristescu, Magdalena Blazek, Henry Daly, Jakub Daniel, Amelie Dinh, Joshua Durrant, Ardo Hiiuväin, Sean Kim, Anna Liisa Saavaste, Triin Vallner, Josine Vos, Marcus Yngwe, Rasu Watanabe. Tutors: Sami Rintala, Mari Hunt and Hannes Praks
Flooded Summer School held by Estonian Academy of Arts uses Soomaa region and its ever-changing natural character as a laboratory to examine the spatial necessities for humans in extreme conditions. The project explores the question: “How could site-specific and context-driven spatial design help create new values in delicate surroundings?”
Tutors and an international team of architecture and design students collaborated in the construction of a public structure on the bank of small Tõramaa River that would be flexible to the changing water levels in Soomaa (trans. Bogland). Vast areas of Soomaa flood once or twice per year: rivers flow over to the meadows, forests, roads and the water levels rise as high as 5 meters.
Photo credit: Tõnu Tunnell
The final structure is slim and tall with nearly 7 meters of height. During the full flood, the visitor can paddle a canoe straight into the structure and find shelter on the top levels of the structure, whilst the lower levels are submerged. With low water levels, the whole shelter can be used for sleeping, offering a steady pause and solid ground for the wanderers. In the future, the installation will be part of a larger network of forest infrastructure, organized by the State Forest Management Centre of Estonia.
Swamp was the most defining feature of the region. In our first day in Soomaa, we had an extremely long hike on the swamps. This was a geographic form I had never known or experienced before. The moment of sinking in the swamp was an interesting form of rediscovering your body and its limitations. Swimming in the beautiful lakes we came along in between swamps was one of the highlights of our hike.
Designing, building, and living completely being analog was a great experience that made me connect with hands-on skills further. Besides practicing off-grid building, we had inspiring lectures, discussions, hikes, evening saunas, and good food cooked in limited conditions. The whole experience of being in a remote area, communal living without electricity, smart devices, watches, or mirrors was inspiring.