Some elements we encounter regularly in our practice. In this section we share them as typologies that become applicable, yet indicative of our way of working.
Gathering place in the heart of a community. Becomes a catalyst for a dense situation of exchange, when a genuine need for debate and discussion arises. A crucial space for the practice of democracy, usually constructed in a circular shape, which demonstrates a non-hierarchical way of spatial organizing. Small arena in which conflicts are endured and celebrated.
Architectonically staged place where at least one person pours another person a drink, traditionally with high cathartic potential. A spot that blossoms to its fullest at night, where not only liquids are exchanged, but also first conversations and fleeting thoughts. Fixed module of a project (commercial) or spontaneously emerging from the needs that arise from being together (social).
The (outdoor) cousin of the > Stool that delivers more space and longevity. Offers the possibility of gathering in a small area, sometimes built from scrap wood, invites you to take a nap (in the sun). Sign of the intrusion of civilisation into a natural area or the reminder of basic human needs (resting) in a cultivated context.
The glassy eyes of a design, the vendor’s tray of a project. Not only about information, but also about ideas (displayed clearly, vertically, at eye level). Have a potential for mimicry, for an informative becoming part of the environment, but are also possible troublemakers who disrupt, shake up or splinter a familiar image. Often part of an > Exhibition.
The stringing together of color particles to create meaning and shape. Is often the conversational basis of a new idea, a primordial form of storytelling and remembering. Takes very little to fulfill a communicative task. Can be ephemeral (on a napkin) or last for millennia (on a cave wall). > Printing
The grand finale of thoughts and visions, the chance to share and exchange a debate, an oeuvre, a design process with a wider audience. The pausing of a process, the opportunity to stroll through temporary results in silence and wonder. Invariably also a holding on to zeitgeist and perspective, a non-showing and concealment of everything that could not be put into words, visuals and objects.
Engaging with the local environment of a project means getting to know it. That is why we often leave our construction sites to walk, talk, eat, dance with the locals and experience ourselves in the foreign context. All this is a two-way process, with our impressions and experiences feeding directly back into the designs and the way we work. Exploration happens on two feet, bicycles, small and large wheels, hooves, skids and rails, as a happy indulgence in a curious wanderlust.
Cultivated natural area that mostly takes place outside (similar to > Swimming pool). Has the potential to transform a staunch urbanist into a humble and peaceful agrarian. Supplies a place with blossom, worms and oxygen and often visually quotes larger green spaces. A pretidal for creativity, a micro-nurturing ground for sustainability; inevitably taking a stand for the necessity of nature conservation.
The amalgamation of at least two people that often appears in the shape of a circle. Large, medium, small, with different floors, in which one can enter but not go out, made of wood or bodies. Additional links are always possible, fluidity is key: nobody takes the central position. Can cut a bigger meeting into smaller parts and transform strangeness into togetherness.
Similar to > Workshop: A place where raw materials are transformed into other forms, changing color and delicacy. Facilitates a fixed place for tools, enables shared gestures and standing choreographies that are repetitive yet soothing. Smoke, grease and burns accompany conversations, conflicts and informal negotiations. On a construction site, this space helps to prepare food for many and is often a compact element. Cleaning is done elsewhere.
On wheels
In the same way that the internationality of our network demands a high degree of flexibility from us, we examine our design for the potential of mobility. Often we share our work and let it travel, often a mobility in the sense of space activation is already part of the basic idea. Wheels become the fastest legs, tireless wings, bringing concepts into motion (most literally).
The hot, inner core of a building site, where cheese is melted and dough caused to expand in all directions. Hosts the potential to generate hellishly temperatures while holding fire in check. ​Often erected to reinforce feelings of community and originality, turns the general smell of a place into a more homely one.
Activity that usually involves two people, but not necessarily. Often associated with fun, although it can trigger feelings of frenzy and anger. Playfulness has no given shape and emerges from each project. It does not necessarily need a playground: play happens irremediably when allowed and is often the interface between the project community and the locals.
Act of putting thoughts into ideas and ideas into ink, potentially in a hundredfold. The often handmade, fast and analogue identity of a Constructlab project, the communicative garment and camouflage of a thing, producing something that lasts for decades or that can be burned in seconds. > Drawing
An often small wooden room heated to temperatures of up to 100 degrees. Not only associated with cleansing rituals and health treatments, but traditionally incorporating a variety of social aspects. Usually filled with conversations about politics, corruption or eroticism. While offering comfort and intimacy in a womb-like atmosphere, this typology takes off clothes, carries new relationships and explores the limits of public space.
Protection from weather or company. Very individual in its interpretation, since different demands for enclosure define the formation of this typology. Sometimes a tarpaulin or a canopy can be a shelter – sometimes words. In other contexts, stone walls and ramparts are needed. In our projects, fortunately, many arms and a sporadic roof are usually enough.
Sleeping space
Individual or communal, on the ground or high up in trees: in many ways, the first step of inhabiting a space is to sleep in it. Sleeping facilities mark the construction site as a space of daily life. Depending on a project’s timespan, different spaces of intimacy are integrated, from camping fields to shelves of tents, wooden cabins or pop-up hotels. Flexible spaces set-up can host new guests and contribute to expanding the community.
Elevation of the floor or an architecturally created space that allows full and centered attention. Element that separates performers and audience and at the same time creates great closeness through an orchestrated distance. Produces invisible levels of awe and generates room to bring the interpersonal into a performative exchange – we are all constantly playing ourselves.
One of the smallest individual spaces possible to rest and to reconsider, reinforced and emphasized by means of design. Comes in many development stages: with or without a back or cushion, finely polished or unadorned. Often built out of leftovers, stackable and easy to produce – but incredibly difficult no to make wobbly sometimes.
Swimming pool
Synthetic replica of a water surface suitable for swimming, splashing and tanning. Important infrastructural part of some Constructlab projects that took place in summer months. Caution: Not always deep enough for cannon balls and disappearing evidence. Basic realization: Water both comes from the earth and seeps into it.
The table to host many is long and thin. Shared dishes pass through the whole line whereas conversations are often limited to the direct neighbors. As it repeats three times daily, the table represents at the same time the necessary pause and the occasion to mix up and shuffle. Around the table, we share food, cultures and backgrounds.
A construction site is a permanently dusty, permanently sweaty undertaking. This requires places where physical surfaces can be cleaned and pores unclogged. Variable in size and level of intimacy, wash rooms facilitate soapy gatherings and slippery togetherness – or become a place where you can escape from communality for a moment.
a) Heart valve of the construction site that allows a (safe) repetition of the same gesture. Spatial organization based on a precise sequence of rationalized movements: receive, classify, align, cut, assemble. Place where raw materials are transformed into finished modules, where every tool has a dedicated space. b) Fixed period of time in which to work on a common cause, share knowledge and materials. Often led by someone who knows a bit more than others, but not necessarily. A light introduction to a subject area with educational aspects free of the strict regularities of school.