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Competition: Beam Camp Spectacular Projects 2018, USA

Beam Camp in New Hampshire has launched its annual international competition for a series of $12,500 temporary installations (Deadline: 7 January)

Open to architects, engineers, designers, sculptors and artists – the two-stage contest seeks ‘unique, ambitious and spectacular’ proposals for artistic structures to be constructed by the summer youth camp’s 20 staff and 100 participants.

The project aims to teach young people at the specialist camp about design, planning and construction, with the majority of components for each installation prepared on site and assembled in under 50 hours. Previous winners have included London-based Mobile Studio Architects, which created a series of giant mechanical flipbooks (pictured) featuring still images of birds in the forest.

Universal Play Machine by Mobile Studio Architects

Universal Play Machine by Mobile Studio Architects

Universal Play Machine by Mobile Studio Architects

The contest brief reads: ‘An intergalactic salvage station struck by a meteor, a solar-powered cinematic riff on a French film from 1902, a two-storey arboreal kaleidoscope: every year, Beam Camp solicits proposals for unique and spectacular large-scale projects that serve as the centerpiece for a 25-day session of camp, during which they are built and brought to life by 100 campers and staff.

‘Beam Camp is a collaborative building and design summer camp in Strafford, NH that works with kids aged 10-17 to make the seemingly impossible possible. Our project team works with the winning designers to translate their designs into the camp context. Precision of craft, skill, and imaginative thinking are paramount in our projects and the work of our staff and campers.’

The annual summer camp in rural Strafford was launched 12 years ago by the New York-based Beam Centre, which promotes youth development through collaboration and creation. Accredited by the American Camp Association, the holiday camp focuses on developing hands-on skills and learning through fine arts, manual arts, technology and teamwork.

Open to participants aged 10 to 17, the 43ha facility is home to many past installations including several on land and water. Structures are demounted in the winter and reassembled each summer. Last year’s winners included University of Cambridge graduates Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig who created a timber and metal structure inspired by origami.

Site plan

Site plan

Proposals for the latest commission must include a detailed breakdown of construction steps and instructions for using the tools and materials available on the site. Facilities available at Beam Camp include wood and metal workshops, featuring welding, moulding and casting tools; textile, dye and sewing stations; a ceramic studio; a technology lab; audio equipment and a food garden with commercial kitchen.

Participating teams must designate a project master who will be available to guide campers via Skype during the project’s delivery between February and June next year.

The winners, set to be announced on 30 January, will each receive a US$3,000 stipend. Attendance at the camp is not mandatory for winning teams but travel expenses may be covered if required.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 7 January

Contact details

Beam Camp NH
55 Boy Scout Road
Strafford
NH 03884
USA

Email: contact@beamcamp.org
Tel: +1 718 855 7600

View the competition website for more information

Kinetic Cluster case study: Q&A with Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

The winners of last year’s competition discusses lessons learned designing an installation for Beam Camp

How did your project deliver a stimulating architectural installation for participants of the 2017 Beam Camp?

We drew inspiration from previous Beam Camp projects to rethink interactive space. We wanted to go one step further than flipping switches or pressing buttons to the extent that the kids’ very presence in the space triggers a reaction in the building. When you sit down, the origami roof above you folds up, exposing the view behind you. Teamwork was a very big part of our proposal: only by working in a group can you get the 360-degree view and collectively raise the roof. The combination of timber, metal and small moving components along with corrugated plastic origami meant each camper got the chance to try out several new skills over the three weeks.

Kinetic Cluster by Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

Kinetic Cluster by Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

Kinetic Cluster by Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Despite the complexity of the mechanical origami system, the overall design of the space is based on simple architectural principles. Every piece of wood plays a structural role, but we tried to arrange these in a way that would contribute to a comfortable and beautiful space as a whole. Placing the gear system exposed at a child’s eye height from the outside celebrates the technical side of the design, while inside, triangular floorboards express the cross-braced structure below and provide a nice geometrical pattern to complement the folding roof. The canopy itself is slightly translucent, catching the sun during the day and becoming a lantern at night. Some of the kids were initially sceptical about our choice of neutral colours, but we didn’t want to distract from the intricate form of the whole thing, and in the end everyone agreed with our decision.

Kinetic Cluster by Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

Kinetic Cluster by Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

Kinetic Cluster by Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing an installation for next years camp?

Be ambitious and have fun with it! We were so excited by the open brief and the chance to design for children and teenagers that we didn’t have time to get caught up in technical details too much (at least at the competition stage). Beam has a really great team of designers and technicians themselves, so by working together with them, we were able to achieve a much more complicated and well-rounded design than we would have been able to between the two of us. We learnt and grew just as much as the kids!

Kinetic Cluster by Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

Kinetic Cluster by Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

Kinetic Cluster by Kate McAleer and Fruzsina Karig

Q&A with Morgan Street

The project director at Beam Camp discusses her ambitions for the contest

Morgan Street

Morgan Street

Morgan Street

Why are your holding a competition for an architectural installation at Beam Camp?

The international design call is an important part of the project selection process. Having a wide range of proposals from a diverse group of creative people keeps our programming engaging, challenging, and aesthetically diverse as well. It is exciting to share project proposals with the young people of Beam, allowing them insight on how they can best present their creative ideas to others in the future. One of the key things we do at Beam is not only learning how to solve creative problems and make things, but how to present our ideas for others to understand and learn from.

What is your vision for the next year’s installations?

We are always looking for projects that not only bring a high level of craftsmanship and aesthetic maturity, but also provide a narrative or story. We love projects that challenge our community, encourage exciting entry points, allow for innovative building processes and think about the process as well as the product.

Creatura

Creatura

Creatura

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Many past designers have found their work with Beam is a highlight of their creative portfolio. For emerging architects and designers this opportunity can be a way to build on a scale they would not normally be able to, engage with a community that is eager to participate and produce amazing results. The experience of bringing your vision to life with a community of brilliant young people and talented staff is thrilling and uniquely rewarding.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

As we grow as an organisation, we have started using Projects for everyday infrastructure and places of play and learning both at camp and in Beam Center’s work in New York City public schools. An example of the latter was a collaboration last year with 2012 Beam Camp project master Matt Springett, who brought his students from the Bartlett School to work with a group of New York City high school architecture students. They worked together on a project to envision embassies of the future. We are eager to see project proposals that encourage intentional use, creative forms of longevity and purpose beyond the time of building and that can lead longer-term partnerships.

Are there any other artistic installations you have been impressed by?

I recently had the pleasure of experiencing The House of Eternal Return, an installation at Meow Wolf’s Santa Fe location that also houses Chimera, their education outreach non-profit program. I was thoroughly impressed by their level of craftsmanship and narrative, creating a uniquely engaging immersive experience that was intoxicating for visitors of all ages.