In the world in which we live, a large urban or architectural project cannot be limited solely to the material, to the elements artistically grouped together with a functionality. It must also integrate a harmonic fusion with the environment, whether urban or natural.
When the environment is a protected wild space, such as an Estonian almost virgin forest, the scenario becomes even more delicate for the builder. A simple failure, and it could be perennially condemn to concrete life for this once idyllic place.
Such is the case of the installation Ruup (megaphone in Estonian) designed by the student of the Academy of Arts in Estonia, Birgit Õigus. She led the team that achieved in 2015 to build three huge hardwood ‘megaphones’ into the deepest of the forest of this Baltic nation. They help amplify the natural sounds of the environment, while serving to sit, sleep and think. The primary idea of Ruup is for them to function as a free library with an immeasurable catalog of audio-books about a single theme: the sounds of nature.
“The main objective is to abandon the view for a while and to focus only on listening”, said Õigus about her work. “At Voru County forest it is possible to perceive familiar sounds and simultaneously renewed, since we are forgetting them with urban life”.
The young talented Estonian explains that wood is not a rigid material unlike steel, but is presented as light and welcoming, providing an exquisite acoustics. “Also, the shape that we have given to this noble element does amplify sounds of certain frequencies as if it were a real megaphone”, says Õigus.
The facility was led by the designers Tonis Kalve and Ahti Grünberg, creators of Derelict Furniture, a brand of designer furniture made from recycled materials. This avant-garde Estonian brand creates unusual furniture with wood from industrial waste and old timber ships.
Obviously Kalve and Grünberg helped their student get all the wood necessary for Ruup. Grünberg graduated in Interior Architecture and Furniture Design at the Academy of Arts of Estonia has worked in several renowned architectural firms in the country. Kalve, meanwhile, graduated at the same school has created several interior design projects in Tallinn.
The project inspired by “The Linguistic Forest”, best-seller of the Estonian writer Valdur Mikita, it also had the support of The Design and Architecture Studio B210 based in Tallinn. This group describes itself as versatile professionals who feel home at any scale and offers sophisticated solutions in terms of understanding environments, emotional spaces, functional logic, that means, the architecture as an experience.
In fact, the Estonian Centre for Forest Conservation has been involved with the creative group from the beginning. “We are pleased to provide an amazing audiovisual space for contemplation, and that it is even a work that lends itself to the adventurers to spend the night in the trees”, says Marge Rammo, the head of the center.
Estonia, a nation covered with forest in 51% of its territory, where it is almost a duty of every citizen to camp in them (for free), and whose trails and campsites are valued for its wonderful natural wealth. Now they also have Ruup, this avant-garde interactive work that will help the adventurous hiker to perceive the vast catalog of sounds of the cold forest.
The Ruup facility, designed by Estonian student, Birgit Õigus. The team managed to build three wood ‘megaphones’ in the forest of this nation.