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8–14 Sep 2024
Winter: Forestry

Jacques Abelman (USA/FR/NL)

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Forest, Mind and Mycelial Encounters

Have you ever pondered the significance of the forest? What role does it play in the history of Wermsdorf Castle and the Hubertusburg sanatorium? Are the destinies of the castle, the sanatorium, and the forest intertwined? And who, or what else, inhabits this ecosystem?

Our week-long exploration begins with a fundamental concept: the link between mental health and ecosystem vitality. Just as the human mind comprises interconnected cells, a forest ecosystem thrives as a network of symbiotic entities. Our minds are entwined within the greater consciousness of the forest. Mycelial networks, prevalent in forests, resemble vast neural networks. Through dialogue with mental health experts from the neighboring institute, we will delve into the correlation between ecosystem well-being and mental health, pondering the potential of future forests as therapeutic environments.

Our journey begins with forest walks inspired by the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing—a physiological and psychological exercise. Employing basic mindfulness techniques, we will observe and interpret the living essence of the forest. From there, we will embark on the creation of micro-architectures that embody our entanglement with the forest, forging interfaces with nature. This design research is open-ended, rooted in individual interpretations and experiences of the site, nurtured through intensive dialogue with the instructor. The resulting creations may take various forms: models, installations, structures, drawings, videos, recordings, or a fusion of mediums. Organic materials may even be inoculated with mushroom spores, blooming months later during the fall harvest.

Ideal candidates for the workshop are current or former students of architecture, landscape architecture, fine arts, or design, possessing basic skills in manual outdoor work, the capability to comprehend and discuss texts, articulate ideas within group discussions, work autonomously on self-initiated projects, and have rudimentary experience in drawing, sculpture, or crafting.

Jacques Abelman

Jacques Abelman is a landscape architect, researcher, and educator. He was trained in fine arts and environmental philosophy at Amherst College and the University of the Arts London and studied landscape architecture at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture.

His research examines notions of human and ecosystem health together through the lens of infrastructure and public space design. His built work seeks to bring ecological cycles to life through aesthetic, tactile and educational interventions such as The Landscape Table (Brussels, 2014) and Prairie Futures (Joes, Colorado, 2020). He has taught at the Amsterdam and Rotterdam Academies of Architecture, the European Masters in Landscape Architecture Program, and the University of Oregon. His writing has been published in Flourishing Foodscapes,” The Routledge Handbook of Food and Landscape,” and Urban Food Mapping: Making Visible the Edible City.”


Jacques Abelman

Photo: Abelman

Photo: Abelman

Photo: Abelman

Photo: Abelman

Photo: Abelman

Landscape Table. Photo: Abelman

Meditation Table. Photo: Abelman

Prairie Futures. Photo: Abelman

Clam House. Photo: Abelman