Hello Wood Summer Festival is a unique opportunity for designers and students to experience an immersive, hands-on approach to designing and building with timber. The nine day camp in the Hungarian forest is gearing up for its 10th anniversary.
The Hello Wood Summer School is an independent and international educational platform for architects and designers to engage in an immerse bootcamp on timber construction. Running for just over a week in June during the Hungarian summer, the camp caters both to students and practicing designers. Applicants submit a portfolio and motivation letter via the Hello Wood website to attend the workshop. Attendees stay, work and eat at the site, which is deliberately cut off from wi-fi to assist with the immersion.
The Hello Wood Studio itself is an architectural design studio operating out of Budapest in Hungary. Starting out as an arts camp in 2010, the collective of designers and woodworkers evolved the conceptual studio into a global design hub. Hello Wood also acts as an educational platform for sharing ideas and experimenting with construction. Specialising in timber cabins, installations and full scale timber buildings, the studio takes a few weeks off a year to organise the camp for educating about timber. A continuously growing legion of builders, designers and craftsmen form an educational team that is dedicated to inspiring a passion for environmental based design. Sustainable practices and high level craftsmanship are at the forefront of the masterclass.
Every year, once the theme is decided, the organisers open a call for designers to submit their projects to become group leaders. Designers from all over the world are invited to submit their proposals, make their statements and become a project/ workshop leader for the festival. The proposals include concept descriptions, concept drawings, sketches and an estimated timing of the realisation. In the case of the 2018 festival, the scale was much greater, as the theme involved construction of entire cabin projects. Designers were required to submit much finer detailing and material requirements for their design. Student involvement in the design process varies according to the complexity of the festivals theme, but priorities are always geared towards student participation in the decision making process.
The workshops offer a stark contrast to University based learning, complementing the abstract theoretical work with hands on and sketch based design approaches. Students get first hand experience of how a 2D drawing can become fully realised into a 3D structure in a real environment. The idea is to practise through doing, think with your hands, and learn through experience. Participants engage heavily with team based activities, which promotes the critical nature of community in architecture.
Due to its popularity, the Hello Wood camps are increasingly gaining pre-industry exposure to innovative materials and construction techniques. At last years festival, a leading Hungarian cement manufacturer supplied the festival with its innovative mineral thermal insulation for students to test and give feedback on before it was released to the market. Similarly, a prefabrication company in Budapest supplied their innovative timber prefab wall panels for students to experiment with in their designs. Constantly evolving innovative technologies are always celebrated at Hello Wood, such as environment-friendly ground screws, experimental infrared water purification equipment, the introduction of community cleanup and selective waste collection. These are all part of the effort to keep Hello Wood amongst the most innovative architectural education programmes, and ensure a sustainable approach to design is instilled in it’s participants.
Materials for the festival are collected and re-used with a sustainable process in mind. As timber is the primary material, re use and sustainable sourcing is quite an easy process to regulate. Excess materials that arise from Hello Wood studios commercial projects are donated to the festival for use in projects. Expired installations from previous festivals are disassembled and re used for future projects. New plywood, OSB, and locally harvested pine framing are generally the basis for new materials used each year at the festival.
The concept of this years festival was dedicated to the tiny house movement, in which small footprint homes offer a chance to reconnect with nature and create minimal impact on the environment. Timber is a low embodied energy material, particularly when locally sourced, as it traps carbon inside it for the remainder of the buildings life. The tiny house movement has inspired a minimalist, back to basics living approach that spans from affluent urban people paring back the stress of the city, to social housing and rural living. Techniques used in tiny housing can inform temporary structures that require fast erection for use in disaster relief zones.