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Architecture’s been around ever since man put a roof over his head. In the many millennium since, we’ve created some astounding buildings. Just look at the Guggenheim Museum, in Bilbao or the famed Cubic Houses of Rotterdam. But are things set to get even wackier? If you look at the workshops held during Wastelands, the 17th European Students Assembly, the answer is a resounding yes. We spoke to organizer, Janne Melajoki, to find out more.

End of the world as we know it

Most architects focus on designing one building. The Korkeasaari project focused on a creating an entire world.  The participants played “the role of a group of survivors in aftermath of a major catastrophic event, resulting in the flooding of the earth.” While not the most cheerful of scenarios, in the two weeks the project ran, an entire imaginary world was created. They lived as different tribes, developed a complex mythology, maps and sacred sites.  “It really was like visiting another world,” says Janne. “Even the way they talked was different.”

Demolition men and women

Architects normally design buildings to last. Not at Wastelands. Demolition was a workshop specifically for students who wanted to design and build a structure simply to destroy it. “The results were incredible,” says Janne. “They used a massive variety of material to build models, even including spaghetti and then video and photographed their destruction.” What’s the point of this? Well, it helps them better understand the properties of different material, while reinforcing the idea that architecture goes through a cycle of creation, living and decay like natural organisms.

via Lassi Häkkinen

Crowdsourcing building

Perhaps more than ever before architecture is dictated by economics. Whether grand projects like the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, or housing developments on regenerated land, money is often a more important consideration than people. Visioning Helsinki, showcased visioning, a design tool, which aims to build consensus between residents, stakeholders and politicians by asking ‘what do we want this place to be like?’ “It’s called freedom architecture for a reason,” Janne says. “It gives people the freedom to get involved with architecture that effects their lives.”

via Lassi Häkkinen

Back to basics

Modern architecture has often borrowed from the past, but its rarely taken notice of the building techniques of the world’s indigenous people. That all changed at Wastelands this year, when the Inípi workshop built a traditional sweat lodge to show how Lakota people of the North American Great Plains used sustainable design. The structure also underlined how it’s possible to build an oasis of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of every day life.

Whether it’s reinventing society, destroying buildings, crowdsourcing architecture or incorporating ancient wisdoms, Wasteland showed that architecture is flourishing like never before. But which of these imaginative themes most surprised you? Let us know here or at @Nokia_Connects.