The Catholic University of America

Aug. 17, 2010

Architecture Majors Building Retreat Center in Finland

  The final model of The Shaman's Haven of the Kalevala.

Inspired by a Finnish national epic poem, 23 CUA students are building a small retreat center in Finland this month.

The “Kalevala” is an epic poem drawn from Finnish folklore. Inspired by this work, students from CUA’s Spirit of Place/Spirit of Design program in the School of Architecture and Planning will build The Shaman’s Haven of the Kalevala. The boat-like structure was designed to be a place where the natural setting evokes deeper thinking.

The group arrived in Finland on Aug. 13. In nine days, it will construct a 15-foot x 40-foot building of Finnish wood, glass and stainless steel on Helsinki’s Seurasaari Island at the edge of the Gulf of Finland.

The building will function as a meeting place for reflection and creative dialogue. Students will update their progress on the Spirit of Place blog. Previous blog entries offer more information about the location and the students involved.

The group will be led by Adjunct Professor of Architecture Travis Price, who created Spirit of Place 15 years ago. The program gives architecture students the opportunity to create monuments that celebrate the natural surroundings and culture of an area through modern design.

Travis Price, adjunct professor of architecture and planning, leads students on a sightseeing trip through Helsinki.

The Helsinki project began with an intensive design workshop at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C., in January 2010. At the workshop individual students and student teams produced a series of conceptual designs that led to the final model of the structure.

The Shaman’s Haven of the Kalevala received a grant in 2010 from the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s endowment for arts and sciences. In addition, Spirit of Place/Spirit of Design was named as one of six national recipients of a major award for U.S. schools of architecture: the Prize for Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy, sponsored by the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards.

The dedication ceremony for the building, to be held Aug. 26, will launch Helsinki Design Week 2010 and coincide with the Helsinki Festival, the largest arts festival in Finland.

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