TAKE OUR TIME (LOGS & SAWDUST) 

Tallinn Architecture Biennale

Tallinn, Estonia

2021

1/7

The project is designed by Studio KINC (a collaborative architecture group consisting of Igor Siddiqui with Kory Bieg, Nerea Feliz, and Clay Odom)  as one of 12 finalists for the  Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2022 Installation Competition. 

Inspired by the theme of Slowbuilding, the project uses architecture to heighten one’s awareness of the easily overlooked phenomena that surround us, while also staging its own participation in the circulation of materials over an extended period of time. Titled TAKE OUR TIME (LOGS & SAWDUST), the project foregrounds the experience of the present moment set against the slow unfolding of material processes and patterns of human and nonhuman inhabitation.

Construction System

The project’s construction system is designed to participate in the cyclical nature of material production – specifically Estonian wood – from a tree growing in the soil to its industrial formatting, byproduct and, ultimately, decomposing to return to the ground. The system’s main components are whole wood logs and sawdust, the former as framing and the latter as a type of masonry unit. Informed by the tradition of earth-bag construction, the sawdust – an excessive byproduct of wood milling – is converted into building blocks by its use as a filler for non-standard custom-made bags made from a combination of recyclable and biodegradable sheet material. In this way, the sawdust is rerouted from a direct waste flow to a productive architectural use and, at the end of the installation’s lifespan, back to the ground as it is set to compost. Likewise, the installation’s long linear members, the logs, are able to return to the supply chain that they came from. Across the site, the log framing outlines the form of the entire installation, only partly constructed while the remainder is made visible through augmented reality (AR) devices. The sawdust bags give form to the physically realized fragment of the installation sized to the competition requirements. This proof-of-concept construction project seeks to demonstrate the viability of sawdust bag construction as a solution to the problem of wood waste beyond the scope of the project.

Ground

Addressing economies of scale that are limited to the footprint of the building and a small budget relative to the intended scale of ideas and experience, the project productively utilizes the existing vegetated ground throughout the installation’s lifecycle. As soon as possible, the team intends to paint a geometric two-dimensional figure on freshly cut grass using biodegradable field paint – a material and graphic introduction of the project on site. Surrounding the figure is leftover grass that would continue to be trimmed by the municipality, while the painted area would be left to grow wild. Select areas would be trimmed again and painted over time, while other patches – a part of the overall project’s geometry – would continue to grow and get taller. This strategy of managed growth enables the installation to have a maximum footprint and three-dimensional form using modest means. The caretaking of this lawn engages the local human population, while providing a richer habitat for a host of nonhuman species. The vegetation’s productive growth is set against the material decomposition inherent to the proposed construction system. Watching grass grow and watching paint dry are salient characteristics of slowness – and of our take on Slowbuilding.

Human and Nonhuman Habitat

The project is a habitat for humans and nonhumans alike. Reminiscent of a playground, the project is decidedly not a work of architecture to be passively looked at, but rather to actively inhabit. The pavilion built from sawdust bags enables the users to heuristically engage in this novel mode of construction, while amplifying their attention to that which occur at microscales. The built structure integrates elements of pollinator hotels to encourage multiple aerial species to thrive, while the installation’s very thickness – the sawdust – is calibrated to host species like worms and fungi so that they can begin their work of processing the material even during the installation’s two-year lifespan. The installation as such acts as an opportunity for making evident the processes that already shape the material world.

There is an existing proposal in Tallinn for a ‘pollinator highway,’ running north-south and to the west of the project site. In dialog with this urban-scaled intervention, the project sees itself as the slowed down version of the ‘highway’ – or rather as ‘pollinator park(ing).’ 

Virtual Realization

After the installation opens in 2022 – featuring the modulated ground, the log framework, and the smaller sawdust-bag pavilion – the remainder of the larger form will unfold as an augmented reality experience. The AR experience will include iterations of additional stacked configurations on top of logs, as well as virtual nonhuman (and nonreal) inhabitation that existing at the site long before humans, and potentially, long after.