Barrow Design Build Summary

In July 2014, I coordinated and led a two-week Design Build Camp in Barrow, Alaska. The focus of the camp was for students to learn design and construction skills, and build teamwork, and to feel a strong sense of accomplishment at what they can do for themselves.

Fourteen high school students attended from across the state and worked with me and two other instructors to design and construct mobile community pavilions. The camp donated the shelters they built to the City of Barrow for public use at the village playgrounds.

The first four days of camp focused on design, incorporating field trips to the playgrounds for site analysis, gathering design inspiration from guest lectures and around town, and learning from the history and culture of the Inupiaq people in Barrow. The basics of structural design were taught with hands-on practice, and precedents were introduced for mobile architecture, pavilions, arctic structures, and found object design. Each student developed and presented their own conceptual design for a pavilion, represented in drawings, digital models, and physical models. The group then worked to combine the students’ ideas into two structures, pulling aspects from each of their designs. The next week and a half was spent building the structures, learning and using tools and the construction process. The camp culminated in a community presentation and the installation of the pavilions at each of Barrow's two public playgrounds, where they were well-received. 

The blog posts preceding this detail some of the process leading up to the camp, and journal our exciting day by day activities during the two weeks in Barrow. Check them out!