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This fragment is part of a series of writings that explore the concept of ‘residual space’ by method of observation, description and interpretation. They are written by doing fieldwork and documenting findings in photographs, describing what I see, looking into different characteristics that connect to the concept of residual space, open for imaginative insights they can generate.

‘Provisional Structures’

The image shows a small wooden structure standing next to a bare tree on a forest-like site. It blends into the environment. The ground is covered with a layer of natural vegetation, a silhouette of a car is hidden in the background. The specimen appears to be put together in a makeshift way from pieces of left-over timber. Different lengths of wooden poles and boards are held in place by nails and thin strips of steel. In the top of the structure hangs a pale yellow cloth.

Initially I read the specimen as an unrefined, unstable construction. The boards that clad its sides all have different lengths and are placed with irregular spacing between each other. Nothing lines up. The corroded strips of steel that wrap around the structure are askew, adding to the overall feel that the structure is out of balance. Yet it is exactly this unsophisticated appearance that make it seem to derive directly from the landscape. The use of wood as primary building material; the way the structure adjoins to a tree; the misalignment of all its parts – resembling the natural variety of its surrounding – they all contribute to its natural presence.

A closer look reveals the ingenuity by which it relates to its surrounding. It is placed directly in-between a cut-off stem and a bare tree that serve as structural support. The moss covered stem forms the first step of an improvised stairway that leads into a small interior space. The two boards that make up the elevated floor combine into a seat deep enough to sit in, and leaving enough space for legs to dangle freely. The cladded side of the structure serves as backrest. The provisional roof is built out of several boards that add stability to the structure. The spacings places between boards allowed for the light to fall in. A branch of a neighbouring tree is utilized as improvised flag post.

The scene represents an anticipated experience. I imagine myself climbing it as a child: placing my left foot onto the stem in front, then my right foot onto the boards that stand upright. Then for the next step, crawling inside the interior space that perfectly fits my body and sitting down on the elevated bench, my feet hanging in the air, watching out over the landscape that surrounds me.

The structure was built with material that was at hand. Material readily availably, cheap to acquire, easy to build with and what can be taken apart with relative ease when needed. It has an immediate relation to its site; it exists in glory of this connection. One becomes part of its surrounding and is constructed out of material native to the site, filling a gap that is leftover, creating a quiet place to experience it.


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