We began by identifying the absent volumes of winter snow as rooms in the summer landscape, individually mapping the volumes by placing our bodies within. As we walked and uncovered these concealed spaces, our excursions became a modified game of hide-and-seek. A new hidden path was revealed.
Over the following two days we decided to extend this work into a collective effort. We created a place in the forest for all of us to sleep, a temporary tree-house overlooking the village from a distant hill.
Bamboo was the main construction material. Large amounts were donated from many back gardens, and harvested and gathered with the help of a villager and his white pickup truck. Long pieces of bamboo were used for the main structure, which was woven directly into the spaces between trees. Shorter and thinner stalks were split into various sizes to make lanterns, screens, rugs and seats.The flexibility of the bamboo – which varied according to the size of its section – determined the forms, surfaces and volumes of the spaces.
The main project was intended to facilitate places for ‘additions’ – activities or functions considered surplus to the usual pragmatic use of space as defined by production and efficiency.
The first team continued work on the bamboo lodging structure in the forest, before bringing it back to the school. Inserted into the interior of one of the classrooms, it formed a series of napping rooms (rooms within a room), with sleeping nests and screens woven in bamboo and supported at varying heights by added timber structures.
After consulting the locals, this team learned that star-gazing was a popular activity for the parent and child playgroup. A few households had recently bought a telescope.The construction of a small-scale observatory became the theme of this project. We began with a search for a site with enough darkness at night, minimum interference from streetlights and houses, and maximum exposure to the horizon.The spot eventually chosen was in the playground at one of the highest parts of the village, where we felt closest to the sky.
A concrete foundation was laid to locate a telescope in precise alignment with the constellations. Timetables indicating the rotating cycle of the heavens were set in its surface.
The team also created a hinged structure that can rotate. It supports an elevated balcony for two: space for a child to sit safely at the front edge and a parent to stand behind.
This team began by visiting houses and mapping the objects kept in attics. Students inquired of the villagers,‘What do you keep in your additional space (slack space)? Is there something which has no practical use that you still hold on to because of its memory value?’ Some of the things stored were implements that were no longer in use, such as a marking device for rice planting. Other discoveries included a dakkokuki (rice separator), wooden sleigh, bamboo basket, rice box, woven straw raincoat and snow boots.
The idea was to house the attic objects in a communal storage space, to be called the Local Archive.The site chosen was an existing yet forgotten loft space above the entrance to the gymnasium, into which all the school equipment had been thrown pell-mell.The creative work began by determining how to tidy it all up and relocate the objects.The cleaning work revealed original timber structures hidden beneath the dust and boarded up ceiling panels. A second phase of the archive’s construction (a vertical extension) was proposed as a project to be passed on to a new team the following year.