Students build a floating structure for the seasonally flooded area in Estonia

During a summer camp in August this year, a group of students from the Estonian Academy of Arts built built three floating structures – a shelter, a fireplace and a sauna – as a response to the changing and challenging environment in the Soomaa forests area in Estonia.

Soomaa is a mixture of boglands and meandering rivers that flood over seasonally, mostly in spring, when the water raises several meters higher for weeks. The water flows over flood-plain grasslands and forests and covers fields, forests and roads, disrupting connection with the rest of the world. Locals and visitors use boats to navigate the altered territory, but the students took up the challenge to see what types of floating space they could create, responding to the needs of people in the area.

Tutored by architect and artist Sami Rintala(Finland), architect Pavle Stamenovic (Serbia) and Estonian architecture office b210, the inspired structures depict how experimental forest infrastructure could provide for the needs of people living in the area or visiting it. 

Two of the three objects have now been opened to the public as part of local forest infrastructure. However, one of the structures – the sauna – did not persist the testing, and sunk to the watery depths.

Professor Hannes Praks, head of the Estonian Academy of Arts Interior Architecture department explained, “Wet areas are, recreationally speaking, extremely charming due to the high number of species and unique landscape, but at the same time hard to explore, both in the sense of getting there and staying. VEETEE (in English: Water Way), being located in an area that regularly floods and shifts, develops this competency, exploring ways of being both a transport vehicle and a usable space.”

Praks explained the drive for a workshop taking place on the edge of swamps and bogs, “The Wilderness Summer School was born out of the worldwide success of the forest megaphones project. I’ve personally always liked forest infrastructure, huts and paths etc and I believe these small scale wooden infrastructure projects will continue to be our focus and strength for the near term future.”

One of the tutors, Sami Rintala placed the learning and building process in wilderness in wider context, “As an attempt to deal with contemporary challenges, both planetary and local, it is necessary and clever to jump outside the usual game and stratagem of the urban professional life, and seek a counter-phenomena out on the ‘edge’, where people are ripped off from their roles and positions, and need to act on a common ground. People’s real needs emerge, and they need to be fulfilled, and meanwhile ‘design’ becomes just part of ‘making’.”

The wooden installation will be a part of larger network of forest infrastructure organised by the State Forest Management Centre of Estonia, similar to the forest megaphones Ruup, built by students last year.


Source: Estonian Academy of Arts