Work hard and play hard in the Hello Wood Project Village

Hello Wood Project Village. Photos Tamás Bujnovsky

CSÓROMPUSZTA – Near Lake Balatan, in Hungary, surrounded by pastoral views is a new settlement structure. When hundreds of young architects meet up in the middle of fields and are given free-reign the motto becomes ‘work hard, play hard’. In this year’s edition, the participants of Hello Wood's Project Village finalised a series of pavilions to create a viable village structure.

The experimental educational platform built a village comprising of seven spaces during a week-long intensive program - the garden courtyard, the Hello Wood tower, a communal kitchen, the caravanserai, the cloister and chapter house, an education hall, and a cross section. Infrastructure was also an important component. They intend to bring in electricity and running water to stay there for longer periods of time as the site remains vacant in preparation for next year's works.

The Caravanserai is the sleeping quarters, inspired by Persian and North African vernacular architecture.

Péter Pozsár and Orsi Janota, co-curators of the Project Village talk with Mark Magazine about the outcomes of the project.

When Hello Wood started in 2010, did you ever expect it to go from a summer course to an actual experimental village community?
Orsi Janota: It started as a summer project with a few affiliated universities and about 20 to 30 students to create wooden pavilions and talk architecture. So you can imagine how this year went beyond our wildest expectations. It grew into a purposeful and international community of hundreds of students and various university lecturers.

Continued from last year's church, the cloister and chapter house is built upon the ruins of a church dating back 300 years.

How was the ambiance of the Village Project this year?
OJ: The point of the Village Project is mainly to collaborate – in an intense way – and to create connections you wouldn’t necessarily make elsewhere in a fun yet professional setting. And in such a particularly isolated area it gets quite interesting because of how casual and informal it can get. But we’d learn so much through the lecture series conducted in a barn, in the middle of nowhere, covering topics related to sustainable village planning. We really balanced the gravity of big challenges through casual discussions, intense daytime work, night-time lectures and parties.

The communal kitchen, dubbed Hello Pizza

What was the most exciting moment of this year’s rendition of Project Village?
Péter Pozsár: Originally it was supposed to be a 3-year program, but now it’s changed in the last years – at the end of this year’s edition, we realised that the building program became much more complex and inter-connected. We changed our minds and are now invested in building more. So it’s exciting when you realise that the project is extended for a few more years.

Based upon the Calais refugee camp schools, the ED and ACT education hall is flexible and adaptable for any kind of event.

What changed your minds then?
PP: A lot of new perspectives came up thanks to this year, it’s the first year where participants lived in it. This was thanks to the infrastructure that we developed on the lot and our growing interest in how a community functions and is built. We developed ways to manage our food, water, and waste. It’s more than building nice wooden installations and new structures. It’s become a complex research on communities that’s worth exploring.

Nine six-meter tall poles - the cross section - are scattered throughout the property as a means of communication and visual connection between pavilions.

How did this idea of a village translate into the architecture?
OJ: Until now, the week-long project was organized as several teams designing and building individual structures. Here, we added the key constraint – or opportunity – that different teams have to create connected pavilions. This year it was a necessity to connect everything to create a cohesive village architecture. It involves being considerate but in reality it’s much more challenging to do so, there are boundaries and creative differences. It was invigorating to learn to navigate our way with respect and patience as a village, and ultimately create a connected architecture.
PP: The responsibility of an architect – as part of a community – is in the need to react to the context. In this scale – as a village – it becomes so much more personal and hands-on, you are responsible for the building process and the environment. It’s important to get back to that basic perception of architecture. The architecture at Project Village shows how the scale of a village relates to this understanding.

The garden courtyard

Are there any plans on creating a new one in a different location?
OJ & PP: We have been thinking and discussing about starting something in the USA and South America. Our ultimate goal is to create international educational platforms and keep on creating rural campuses.

The Hello Wood tower

Billboard: German Design Council
Billboard: German Design Council

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