Roots attend ‘Ghost 13’ Conference

 
 
 
, Subject : Inspiration

Roots' Micheal at Ghost‘The Ghost Lab’ has long fascinated Roots as a model for teaching ‘hands on’ architecture and for producing contemporary architecture which is suited to wild, rural climates. This is usually held over a fortnight on the Nova Scotian farm of internationally acclaimed architect Brian McKay-Lyons. Typically, students design in the first week and build something in the second week and successive ‘labs’ over the years has resulted in a collection of timber pavilions, viewing platforms, cow sheds, boat houses and different levels of accommodation across the farm.

This year, Brian and the team from McKay-Lyons Sweetapple Archtitects hosted a gathering of like-minded practitioners, students and academics at a conference entitled ‘Ghost 13: Ideas in Things’. Lynne Cox and Roots Director Micheal were delighted to attend and as it turned out, to be the only participants who had travelled from Europe.

The conference included keynote speeches from Kenneth Frampton, who re-visited his seminal text on Critical Regionalism; Juhani Pallasmaa, who discussed changing metaphors in architecture and its relationship with nature; and Glenn Murcutt, who held a personal question + answer session which took us on a journey from his childhood to becoming a Pritzker prize -winning architect. These set a thread that ran throughout the event by the conference speakers and panel discussions.

Micheal’s personal highlights included Marlon Blackwell’s example of finding an appropriate architectural response to a place where traditional building typologies have been lost amidst the mediocre and inappropriate local built environment; Peter Sutchbury’s awareness of his architecture forming a lineage from Aboriginal times to the present day; Tom Kundig’s home-made architectural fly-wheels and gizmos; the peerless Rural Studio in Alabama now run by Andew Freear; the infectious enthusiasm of Steve Badanes’ and Dan Rockhill’s design + build schools; and finally Brian McKay-Lyons’ example of listening and willing as ‘the village architect’.

Micheal commented: ‘The ambition and depth of ideas which each of the speakers exhibited in their presentations and through their buildings was truly inspiring and to see them all at once in such a positive, congenial atmosphere gave me great hope for what this small but powerful network can achieve. I was struck by the sense of community which developed over the course of the conference through the hospitality of the McKay-Lyons family and the spirit created by being ‘stranded’ with a group who shared a humanity and passion for architecture.

One minute I was learning about radical community-led developments in New York state and the next minute I was sitting next to Glenn Murcutt at lunch or Andrew Freear of Rural Studio at dinner – the people are some of my architectural heros! I am now really excited about taking some of these ideas back over the water to Scotland and I hope I can add a few of my own as Roots’ practice develops.’

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