25 Things I Learned at Architecture Camp

Kevin Jones, RA, recently spent a week at the Immersion Workshop in Vermont and recaps his experience (along with 25 gems of wisdom!) below.

It sounds like the start of a joke. Twenty-two architects on a farm in Vermont. Now in its fourth year, the Immersion Workshop offers its participants a deep dive into the world of architecture, under the guidance of award-winning architects. The format for the class was a fantastic combination of site visits, studio work, informal lectures, and conversations over delicious food and drinks. It was like a week at architecture camp. And yes – there were s’mores.

This year’s workshop started with a question: What does it mean to create architecture, and an experience of architecture, that is intrinsically connected to and inseparable from its site? In this case, the site was a 210-acre farm in Woodstock, Vermont, that is home to a pair of bespoke works of design by architect (and Immersion tutor) Rick Joy. Nestled into the hills at the base of a natural spring, the house and bunkhouse were a perfect backdrop to an intense week.

Rick, along with fellow mentors Tom Kundig and Marlon Blackwell, were gracious in sharing their insight, experience, and the occasional inappropriate story. Evening lectures were informal and anchored by group discussion. Critiques were rigorous and fast-paced, but always with an eye for improving the work and asking tough questions. The week wrapped up with a final review of our group projects by Rick, Tom, Marlon and the homeowner, Paul – who was as gracious with his insight and comments as he was with his home.

The following – gleaned from pages of scribbles in my sketchbook and no less than three different devices – offer a few friendly reminders about the art and craft of architecture.

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