An Architecture of Path and Destination in the Land of Water, Forests, and Peaks
Urban, Anna Findlay
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In 2015, I read an article about a proposed huts and trails system in the Adirondack Park. This is a 6 million acre forested, mountainous, and water logged preserve, that is also home to around 130,000 people. A huts and trails system such as the one proposed is typically aimed at recreational hikers - a sort of tourist in the wilderness- who spend a couple days or perhaps weeks hiking from one spectacular site to another. In thinking about the possibility of introducing such a system, I became interested in the relationship between movement, path, architecture, and place. Knowing that recreational hikers weren’t the only people roaming this region, I wondered what a huts and trails system would look like if it considered the other ways that people approach this place. Consider, for example, the difference between how a forager and how a hiker may move through and stay in the wilderness. My goal was to re-center the path as a means of understanding how people construct their world through movement, and to use the architecture of going as the genesis for an architecture of staying. Following a close study of the Long Lake region of the Adirondack Park and the different groups who use this wilderness, proposals were made that addressed each of the three primary ways that people use this wilderness: one for the recreational hiker, one for the through paddlers on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, and one for hunters and gatherers like trappers and foragers. In each case, I sought to understand the characters and their needs through an understanding of their path - how, where, and why they move through the wilderness. This led to an understanding of how to create a home in the wilderness for each. How should one first see and approach the structure? What is the structure’s relationship to community, comfort, topography, enclosure, permanence? How is it oriented? What became clear is that the path is more than a vector with a direction and a distance. It’s a way of knowing and making our world that is essential to understanding our place, our home, our selves.
- Architecture