The Tree of Secrets

Arbol-Secretos-1 Arbol-Secretos-2 Arbol-Secretos-4The Tree of Secrets (Arbol de los Secretos), Suba (Colombia) 2014

Andes University

The Tree of Secrets is a pavilion conceived as a place for memory and reflection and also a space for meeting, sharing and learning. Conceptually, the tree is meant to represent protection and security for children at CRAN Foundation, who arrive in a vulnerable state after suffering neglect and abuse. It is designed with suspended containers, so children can store some special belongings that they bring with them. It is also meant to represent life and hope providing a covered space where children can play and share with their new friends and community. The “foliage” of the tree shields an area where they can build up new memories and develop a sense of belonging.

The pavilion comprises a triangular reciprocal frame built with treated roundwood and steel joints and covered with an architectural membrane. Woven hyperbolic paraboloids, formed with coloured threads, create permeable barriers between the vertical triangles, in order to define the space without enclosing it completely. In addition, fine white gravel, arranged on a geotextile and bordered with timber poles, is used for flooring. The project was designed and built by a group of 17 undergraduate students from 5th- 8th semester, who guided by a group of tutors worked closely with the community and the private industry to develop the project in a period of two months.

This “live project” is part of a series of academic exercises developed in the Department of Architecture at Andes University, which combine “learning-by-doing” and “action-research” methodologies. These have been devised to promote links between students, educators, researchers, members of the community and the industry, allowing all participants involved to benefit from the experience. Educators and researchers have the opportunity to explore alternative teaching strategies and research ventures. The industry (which partly sponsors the projects) gains new perspectives on the use of their products and the community (which represents the client) obtains a construction to satisfy a need. Above all, the project helps to contextualise students in a “real” situation where they find it necessary to question, reflect, reason and act in response to complex variables. In gives students the chance to connect the formal, functional and technical dimensions of the profession, apply parametric methods for design and manufacturing and work directly with construction materials at 1:1 scale. In addition, it encourages the development of autonomous and collaborative learning by allowing students to strengthen a range of skills, both as individuals and as members of a team. For example, effective visual and verbal communication, the ability to negotiate and deal with conflicts, time and budget management, planning and strategic thinking.

Reflection from the students: “Thanks to this project, as students we were able to learn to think about architecture from a different point of view, based on specific conditions and needs that inspired the exploration and search for the best answer. The class gave us learning tools to accomplish our ideas, ground them and find viable ways to materialise them.”

Client: Fundacion CRAN

This is a non-profit organization dedicated to help and protect children, adolescents and young people, who have been victims of the armed conflict in Colombia or have been abandoned by their families. Their mission is to provide the necessary conditions for them to rebuild their lives in a loving and caring environment.

Tutors: Carolina (Stevenson) Rodriguez (Module Coordinador), Juan Carlos Rojas, Roland Hudson, Hernando Vargas

Students: Daniel Abaunza, Marcela Amaya, Natalia Andrade, Santiago Ardila, Matthias Baratte, Federico Bermúdez, Andrés Calderón, Sebastián García, Juan David Lizarazo, Sebastián García, Juan David Lizarazo, Daniela López, Angie Pardo, Tatiana Rodríguez, María Alejandra Rozo, Andrés Sogamoso, Jessica Vargas



11-50, Analytical, Andes University, Architecture, Collaboration, Colombia, Curricular, Initiated by institution, Months, Permanent, Propositional, Self-funded, Sponsorship, Students with tutor, Undergraduate