Portfolio 1: Camp
I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion… The very simplicity and nakedness of man’s life in the primitive ages imply this advantage, at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature. When he was refreshed with food and sleep, he contemplated his journey again. (Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854)
After spending time on Craignish, the studio was tasked with adapting the ruined steadings at Kirkton into habitable bunk houses. Drawing from the installations erected on the same site during the field trip, the observation work of their own homes, and Henry David Thoreau’s writing, the students began addressing the basic elements of dwelling.
The steadings were to be adapted to become places of temporary lodging, a camp, for visitors or workers to the peninsula, to stay for short periods of time before another new group moved into the dwelling. The temporal aspect of the camp gave the students the opportunity to reflect on communal living, identifying the need for groups who may not be be familiar. These included essential shared amenities, such as bathrooms, laundry, kitchen and dining in order to foster cooperation and conviviality.
The choice of ‘user’ in the place of ‘occupants’, ‘inhabitants’ or ‘clients’ has held strong connotations of the disadvantaged or disenfranchised – it particularly implied those who could not normally be expected to contribute to formulating the architect’s brief. … The ‘user’ was always a person unknown.’ (Adrian Forty, User, 2000)
The extent to which the existing buildings have been altered varied between the students. While some interventions would be barely visible from the outside, like Reuben Roberts’ scheme for an entirely internal lining, others proposed additions equalling the massing of the original buildings.
Yasir Ibrahim’s scheme draws on the roofs of Viking Longhouses, frequent invaders and settlers of the peninsula and the whole west coast of Scotland, the upturned bow of a boat effectively doubles the volume of the existing southern barn steading.
Harpal Shira used the proportional language of Robbrecht en Daem’s ‘Louie System’ (3,5,7) to determine the extents of the connecting block between the two steading buildings. This new addition acted as the communal intermediary linking the personal private dwellings at the far ends of the buildings and the outside.
The camp’s cyclical nature is emphasised by Joel Donoghue’s seasonal kinetic design. Part of the ruin is devoted to a tent accommodating more visitors in the warmer summer months. The exposed conditions of the west coast of Scotland accelerate the deterioration and decay of buildings. The project’s ability to batten down the hatches in the more inhospitable months acknowledges the temporary nature of any camp and the entropy present that is attempting to return it to the landscape.