The secret shelter

Adriana Ross realized The Girl With the Secret Face, a temporary shelter made of wood, leaves, moss in a forest in Lac Des Iles, Quebec, Canada.

Adriana Ross , The Girl With the Secret Face
Ephemeral architecture has existed since humans began making shelter.

In cities this kind of architecture is rare, but we would do well to rediscover it for it has much to teach us. During a violent wind-storm last year I watched, huddled inside, as many trees toppled to the ground, scattering limbs everywhere. Afterwards I collected the detritus, sorting them according to length and thickness. Letting the wood dry for a few weeks under wind and sun I removed the bark. In the forest I spotted a pile of branches forming a shallow dome.

It was here I grew a shelter; adding branches, leaves, compost, earth and on top of the mound, a layer of moss harvested from the forest. Three logs were fixed inside the hill extending outward to form the shelter. Additional wood supports were planted to secure the canopy, and field rocks added to strengthen and beautify. The environment and seasons will transform the site; plants will grow from the hill, the moss will crawl through the supports, the logs will “depart”, eventually crumbling to the ground. Architecture is more than physical shelter.

Adriana Ross, The Girl With the Secret Face
Adriana Ross, The Girl With the Secret Face

For a moment we can forget the techno-superficial-virtual feeding tubes and make places to dream, places of birth, life and death that are tangible, sensorial, real, experiencing the power of growth, the smell of beginnings and the music of departure. We are after all still nomads, walking the earth towards unseen promises.

Why not walk gently, listening to the wind, and unite necessity with joy?

The Girl With the Secret Face
Lac Des Iles, Quebec, Canada
Project: Adriana Ross, PhD student of Architecture, Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Ottawa, Canada
Materials: logs, dead brunches, leaves, compost, rocks and moss

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