One of the most important exhibitions produced by Estonia and Ireland in partnership, Wood Works opened in January of this year at Solstice Arts Centre in Navan, curated by two architectural studios: Alder Architects of Dublin, represented by St John Walsh, and b210 Architects of Tallinn, in the person of Aet Ader, Helmi Marie Langsepp and Mari Möldre.
The exhibition’s unusual subtitle is highly significant: “There is a forest in my backyard but my house is built from trees grown far away”, as the exhibition looks into the secret life of timber and its processing cycle, from extraction to transportation, standardization, encapsulation, and eventual disassembly for potential reuse.
According to the curators of Wood Works: “As a natural building material, wood contains a unique richness which is impacted by many factors including climate and topography. Whether the building site is next to a forest or not, timber used in construction has been subjected to an industrial decision-making process that dictates its final physical properties. In this act of translation, where wood is often treated similarly to other inanimate materials, a tree’s uniqueness is sacrificed for transportability, structural consistency and usability.”
To succeed in their intention of revealing the unique properties of wood, the curators appointed five Irish architectural studios and five from Estonia: Hannigan Cooke Architects, Joseph Mackey Architects, OGU Architects, Robert Bourke Architects, Wrkshop Architects (Ireland), Creatomus Solutions, Paco Ulman & Kaja Pae, Peeter Pere Architects, Ruumiringlus, Studio Kuidas (Estonia). They were invited to work in pairs to investigate how the manufacturing and construction industries could learn from, and be shaped by, the inherent qualities of wood rather than imposing industrial transformation on the material.
The idea behind the exhibition arose at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, inspiring a design process which began in the autumn of 2020 and took place at a distance for the obvious reasons, physically exchanging models and ideas by post. The final exhibition of the nine projects resulting from this work reveal unexpected dialogues between the different nationalities and sensibilities involved, intersecting interests, observations and experiences which are only apparently unrelated to the main theme.
The exhibition was open in Ireland until the end of March and will open again in September in Estonia for the Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB 2022). The Wood Works project is a result of the enterprising spirit of the Estonian Association of Architects, in collaboration with the Estonian Centre for Architecture and the Irish Architecture Foundation, with the support of the European Regional Development Fund, operated by the European Commission, the Arts Council of Ireland, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Enterprise Ireland and Enterprise Estonia, and the town of Meath.
Credits: Estonian Association of Architects (EAA),
Estonian Centre for Architecture (ECA),
Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF)
Curators: Alder Architects, Dublin (St John Walsh) - www.alderarchitects.com
b210 Architects, Tallinn (Aet Ader, Helmi Marie Langsepp and Mari Möldre) - www.b210.ee
On exhibit: Hannigan Cooke Architects, Joseph Mackey Architects, OGU Architects, Robert Bourke Architects, Wrkshop Architects (Ireland), Creatomus Solutions, Paco Ulman & Kaja Pae, Peeter Pere Architects, Ruumiringlus, Studio Kuidas (Estonia)
Funder: Enterprise Estonia (European Commission - European Regional Development Fund)
Co-funders: Arts Council of Ireland, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Enterprise Ireland, Meath County Council
Exhibition design: Roji
Graphic design: StuudioStuudio
Photography: Aisling McCoy