While a new atypical summer is about to start at Hello Wood Summer School, we asked the busy team to tell us more about their project and their intention to create an experimental settlement at the heart of the rural Balaton Highlands in the South West of Hungary.
A mix between an international architecture camp and a festival, Hello Wood Summer School was founded only a few years ago by architects Péter Pozsár and András Huszár, and their fellow designer and communication strategist Dávid Ráday. Aiming at becoming an experimental and collaborative “platform for discussion, innovation and knowledge exchange”, Hello Wood intends to “challenge the hierarchies of the traditional educational models and to test new synergies between teachers and students, clients and designers, experience and theory”, explains Péter Pozsár. So far the trial has been so fruitful that the programme was duplicated in Argentina earlier this year.
Inspired by Joep Van Lieshout’s AVL Ville “Free State” in Rotterdam  and by Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument in South Bronx , Hello Wood Summer School’s concept is based on a series of questions ranging from architectural themes to more social and moral issues, among which: What makes a community settlement? How difficult is it to build a village from scratch? What shapes a community, particularly in a rural context?
In an attempt to answer these questions, back in 2015 Hello Wood launched the Project Village - a “three years long architectural experiment in search of a new village model” - which constitutes the shared foundation of the School’s programme. The quest - which started as a nomadic experiment - finally settled a year later at Csóromfölde, a hilly piece of land in rural Hungary. “We believe that Csóromfölde can be the ideal place for the cyclical revival of our summer school Campus”, says Péter Pozsár.
But finding the perfect spot is not enough to develop a place to live in-common. In fact, “parallel to the physical construction of our settlement we are building a community”, emphasises Pozsár. “As we assemble pieces of the village, we are also developing the intellectual framework of the summer school. We believe in a democratic, structured participation where skills and defined roles are fundamental in organising the learning process”, he continues.
The Project Village aims at becoming a coherent patchwork of in-common facilities “shared, developed and built in a collaborative process” - a “collective fantasy [...] ultimately inhabited by its architects”. Slowly taking shape - as the successive participants “bring their preconceived, visionary or revolutionary ideas of a settlement onboard” - the site already counts a variety of symbolic structures to build togetherness, from a Shou Sugi Ban workshop and a church, to an amphitheatre dedicated to assemblies and debates.
Despite being inspired by past counter experiments, this open-air laboratory isn’t a nostalgic reinterpretation of former settlements and is actually deeply rooted in today’s society thanks to a rigorous and smart communication strategy which enables the team to artificially and ephemerally populate and build the Project Village each year.
Such an approach based on temporality is of course common to creative summer schools programmes, yet Hello Wood’s intention to build a rural village belonging to a global and nomadic population inevitably arises a series of questions. For instance, can the participants or short lasting inhabitants really become part of the place? How easily can they adopt and domesticate the existing buildings imagined by past students? Is the link which rapidly developed between the participants strong enough to survive once they go back to “reality”? To get some answers, let’s wait for the project to settle and for a new kind of village - between globality and locality - to grow.
 The AVL Ville - a self-sufficient urban settlement in the heart of Rotterdam - was imagined by artist Joep Van Lieshout, in 2001. Arguing that “Van Lieshout effectively copied the logic of gated communities” when he created AVL-Ville, art historian Sven Lütticken emphasises that “between New Babylon and AVL-Ville, something fundamental has changed: models for social reform (or revolution) are no longer aimed at society at large, but at small secessions from this society.” Sven Lütticken, “Park Life”, 7 April 2004, Open! Platform for Art, Culture & the Public Domain, Download the article’s PDF.  The Gramsci Monument was an ephemeral installation at Forest Houses in the Bronx imagined by Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn in 2013. The artistic project claimed to be an homage to Italian politician Antonio Gramsci, a notorious advocator of the “counter-hegemonies”, self-education, self-organisation.
Cover_Migrant Hous(ing), by Urban-Think Tank Chair of Architecture and Urban Design, D-ARCH, ETH Zürich, 2015-2016, © Gabor Somoskoi, courtesy Hello Wood; 1_Inventory, by András Cseh, Endre Ványolós, 2016, © Gabor Somoskoi, courtesy Hello Wood; 2_Parliament, by Martial Marquet, Nicolas Polaert and Vojtech Nemec, 2016, © Gabor Somoskoi, courtesy Hello Wood; 3_Amazing Amassing, by Christian Daschek and Julia Wildeis, solidOperations, 2016, © Gabor Somoskoi, courtesy Hello Wood; 4_Hello Wood, Ceremonias, Argentina, 2017 © Fernando Schapochnik, Photo courtesy Hello Wood;
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