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Architecture Department's Wood Program crafts a summer stage for Annantalo

This project consists of a summer stage for Annantalo, an art center for young people and families in Helsinki, to perform in public during the summer season.
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Each year students of the Architecture Department's Wood Program design and construct an ambitious project.  Previous years have completed the stunning Kokoon House, a stackable solution to migrant housing, and, the award winning Säie Pavilion, designed to provide a covered space for workshops, lectures, performances and relaxing in the center of the city.

This year the students have set out to construct a summer theatre for the Annantalo arts centre in Helsinki. The stage , dubbed 'a.lava', will serve as a performance venue for young people and families in the center of Helsinki.

While each project is gorgeous and functional that is not the only goal of the course, “lately there seems to be a growing interest in design+build studios similar to ours, but the thing that I think is unique about our approach is how deeply and exhaustively we study the material and the designs. Our curriculum comes from a lot of angles, but even more important is the exhaustive way in which students make mock-ups, test structures in the lab and draw variations of the design until they reach final solutions," says course instructor Philip Tidwell.

This intensive program is offered through the Department of Architecture at Aalto University and itexplores the ecological, technical and architectural properties of wood. Over the course of one year, students gain an all-round view of the whole chain of wood construction, beginning with the tree in the forest and ending with an experimental wooden building.

The site this year is, Annantalo, an arts centre based in Helsinki.  Art education at Annantalo includes learning the expressive language and techniques of art and being closely connected with the surrounding culture. Teachers are professional artists and / or art pedagogues. Each year, about 10,000 children and young people who live in Helsinki take part in their programs.

The design of the project started in November 2016 and will be completed in late May. Each step of the project has been documented lovingly online through blogs and social media accounts as students track the many steps of building a quality design at full scale. 

Says Tidwell, "I've noticed that when our projects receive recognition or awards, as with the Säie Pavilion this past year, they are usually praised not just for their beauty, but for the attention to detail and level of research that they demonstrate. These are the qualities that we try and emphasize, and I think they are the things that students carry with them in their future work."

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