After a three-year break, Hello Wood’s builder festival returns to welcome students, architects, and young professionals from all across the world to join the 10-day builder camp to test their wooden construction abilities, learn to collaborate, and participate actively in on-site design and construction. For the first time in Hello Wood’s 13-year history, this year’s workshop takes place at a new location, in the crater of an abandoned basalt quarry on Haláp Mountain in Hungary. The workshop also aligns with and supports Veszprém’s title of 2023 European Capital of Culture, which also includes over a hundred other villages and towns across the Bakony-Balaton region. The event took place between July 6 and 15, ending in a two-day music festival open to all.
Reflecting its unique location, the overarching theme of the workshop is focused on the balance between building and demolition, as the wounded landscape demonstrates how the extraction of building materials inevitably leads to the demolition of natural structures. By highlighting this ecological condition, the event also aims to raise awareness of this location, defined by the naturally occurring hexagonal basalt columns and expansive views of Lake Balaton and its surrounding mountain range. To activate this space, the Hello Wood team also built their own pavilion prior to welcoming the workshop participants. Resembling a campfire, the triangular-shaped structures are built with reclaimed wooden beams recuperated from the site of the Ballet Institute of Budapest.
Beyond the theme, the workshop is an opportunity for students to test out their accumulated architectural knowledge in a practical manner. The workshop is based on Hello Wood’s Builder Method, an alternative educational methodology. Through the process of building structures with their own hands, the participants gain a different type of knowledge while also building a community and developing their confidence and understanding of construction processes. Prior to the opening of the festival, team leaders have been selected based on the creativity and viability of their proposed designs. A call for participants then gathers students and architects to join each team. During the first seven days of the festival, they build the proposed structures coordinated on-site by the team leaders and under the guidance of Hello Wood’s crew. The resulting pavilions and installations demonstrate design thinking rooted in processes and experimentation.