parametric design project beam camp | strafford _USA

‘beam camp is a 8-week summer program comprised of two sessions for kids aged 7-17 in strafford, new hampshire. beam campers cultivate hands-on skills while exploring innovative thinking, design and the creative process. they transform ideas into artifacts and personal achievement into community success. teams of campers work on different aspects of the project each day.'

project description | THE VORONOI NEST

Beam Camp is located in a fantastic, untouched natural area whose appeal derives in large measure from the extensive forested area surrounding the camp and the two lakes, Big Willey Pond and Little Willey Pond. On the edge of Big Willey Pond, there is already a dock that sees intensive use during the summer for all activities having to do with swimming, bathing, and water sports. The dense forest opens up here into a clearing facing the south, toward the water.

Right near this existing dock and swimming area, we propose to erect a delicate woven wooden structure, with two slender swimming platforms suspended in the structure like bridge supports. This structure can also be used as a bi-level jumping and view platform. The triangulated geometry of the framework, redundant from a construction standpoint, is seemingly random and without rules, making it reminiscent of natural models such as a spider web or a bird’s nest (Voronoi structure). But like a bird’s nest or a spider web, this structural redundancy makes it extremely adaptable and able to withstand heavy loads, so the weave used for our jumping platform is structurally extremely stable.

The slender, delicately built structure seems to have emerged without a specific author, or at least without a concrete intention behind the design, reminding the viewer more of a patch of undergrowth or a thorny thicket than a man-made artifact. As if it had always been there, it fits perfectly into the natural environment.

This metaphorical wireframe structure creates an open, transitory space. With its large number of crisscrossing lines, this space lends corporeal form to a sense of airiness and lightness, evoking a nearly intangible framework or web of thoughts. The classic division between “inside” and “outside” is blurred, and it becomes a locus of “in-between,” linking the shore and the lake, between the shaded forest and the wide-open horizon. A place for Argonauts, for those about to set sail. And also a place of extravagance or eccentricity. Suspended into the vertical, it frames the landscape like a window, enclosing it and giving it power and impact at the same time.

Seemingly disorganized and interwoven at random, like felt or a tangle of driftwood, this artificial BIRD’S NEST fits naturally into this ecologically valuable, sensitive natural area. The different-colored woods used for the structure all come from the immediate area, and some pieces could even be gathered as deadfall from the surrounding woods.

During the shared building process, deliberate care should be taken to ensure that the final structure does not reflect a specific preconceived, firmly set form. Instead, everyone involved in building the structure should be encouraged to contribute their own design ideas as part of the logic of the structure, which is robust through redundancy. Like in a game, or in a mathematical algorithm, the only things set in advance are the rules, the overall requirements – but not the specific way the structure is to be built, or the final design.

The BIRD’S NEST will stand partly on the shore and partly in the water, thereby explicitly marking the transition between firm and fluid. It will be inclined toward the water and open up toward the pond, with the two platforms acting like wings. This architectural gesture, featuring an inclined and densely branching structure and two platforms at different angles, will speak to essential human emotions, emotions that are experienced especially keenly during adolescence: The desire for stability and dynamism, often at the same time; the dream of being able to both hold on and let go; or the contradictory need to go far away and yet also stay here, not leaving childhood behind just yet. (“Something which shines into the childhood of all and in which no one has yet been: homeland” – Ernst Bloch.)

This enigmatically delicate, tangled, and yet eminently space-containing web can capture the longings of youth, rerouting them into the open like a beam in space-time. In this way, the tower will encourage campers to mature and find themselves. Anyone who has ever experienced a sunset, together with his or her best friend, on the platform in this BIRD’S NEST, will find the days and weeks spent at Beam Camp unforgettable.

designed by _matthias karch

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