Hi Ladders High is a non-profit project launched in the summer of 2018. In the Summer Camp of Tanghe Primary School in Luotian County, Hubei Province, One Take Architects and Sunners, together with college volunteers and left-behind children designed and built this spatial installation.
Hi Ladders High consists of 20 independent wooden ladders. This kind of ladder is one of the most common and easily accessible tools in China’s rural areas. Since each ladder has a completely independent and relatively stable structure with a highly adjustable angle of inclination, these 20 ladders present plenty of possibilities of spatial combination. Even children without professional architectural training could be involved in the whole process of designing and building, which is what we call “an indeterminate participatory open ended situation”.
Reyner Banham proposed the concept of “an indeterminate participatory open ended situation” in which you could create space suited to what you are going to do next. As a relatively stable open-ended structure, Hi Ladders High provides a place of variable spatial forms. Without preset functions, it could trigger or respond to events happening inside. It changes in indeterminate ways over time, continually manifesting new properties.
Hi Ladders High: Three -Act Space Drama
Act One: Bird and Fish. It is designed by the architect team but got this name from the children’s understanding of its shape.
Act Two: Qi Jun. Created by five students: Xiao Sihao, Li Tianyu, Peng Zehua, Hu Ziying, and Luo Anqi. This group of students noticed that a student in the construction camp had body odor. They proposed the idea of double paths so that people who feel uncomfortable with the odor could leave the space at any time but could still peep inside. This work is named after the volunteer tutor of this group: Qi Jun.
Act Three: Little Bug House. Created by five students: Zhou Lei, Zhou Yu, Luo Kai, Wang Ling and Wu Dun. With the shape of a bug in their mind, this group of students built the body, tentacles and limbs. They define it as a quiet space for the elderly and the weak to read and rest in.
Redefining Common Materials
In their journal, the children call themselves “Construction Explorers”. They write “We complete a construction that takes real architects five years to build in only one day.” They also keenly noticed an interesting thing about the spatial installation – “painting a beautiful picture with things so common in our life”. This is what the theorist William C Seitz described: "Installation art is mainly installed, not sketched, painted or carved. All or parts of the components are natural objects or debris instead of art materials."
Architecture as a medium to perceive the real world
Our aim is not to cultivate future architects, but to use architecture as a medium to perceive the real world, to guide and help children grow, and to let children return to the real world through physical participation, thus bringing their interests back to the real world.
The poem from a Turkish poet Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar is well suited as an emotional footnote for Hi Ladders High Construction Camp project.
I am neither inside time
Nor am I completely outside of it
in the indivisible flow of an integral, extensive instant
Each shape has been aetherized
By the hue of an uncanny dream,
Even a feather on the wind
Isn’t as weightless as I am.
My head is a limitless mill
Grinding through silence;
My inner heart’s now sated
Dervish without cloak or post;
I sense a world entwined,
Its roots extending from me,
As I float at the center of
A light the bluest of the blue
——Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar
Project name: Hi Ladders High
Architect’ Firm:One Take Architects
Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead Architects: Li Hao
Project location: Luotian County, Hubei Province, China
Completion Year: 2018
Gross Built Area (square meters): 50㎡
Photo credits:Kang Wei, Li Kexin, Cai Xinyuan, Shi Yufei
Little Architects: Yan Zibo, Peng Zehua, Zhou Yao, Wang Lanqing, Zhou Zhihao, Zhou Yifei, Zhang Nanqing, Yang Tingting, Xiao Sihao, Zhou Lei, Hu Ziying, Wang Mingshuo, Luo Anqi, Li Tianyu, Wang Zihao, Wu Dun, Zhang Kexin, Wang Ling, Zhang Gan, Yang Di