Going beyond the modern-day schism of preserving nature in isolation from people, yet destroying wilderness in the name of urban progress, our project asks, “how can the act of living be an offering?” We want to understand how dwelling can become a space for inner and outer transformation, where humans thrive as part of nature, in synergy with her blossoming.
As we transition from a background in the UK, where we practiced architecture in both corporate and academic contexts, we are on a journey to embody our passions in alignment with deep purpose. Our investigation is located where the Andean mountain geography dissolves into the ecology of the tropical planes in Colombia. The beautiful land of Soná, around 100km from Medellin, comprises around a hundred hectares of highly biodiverse re-wilding rainforest.
This region has experienced drastic transitions, starting as a territory of untouched wilderness and moving through cattle farming, war, abandonment, and with that, re-wilding. Now there is peace and it is safe to return. The prevalent local response has been to cut down trees and bring in cows. In contrast, our view is that the decades of re-wilding are a gift of healing and ultimately can bring a new perspective to humanity’s actions in the world.
What is fundamental to celebrate life on Earth? The vitality and magic of the forest inspire creation on the abandoned farmland. Here we embark on the adventure of joining nature’s process of re-wilding. In tandem with honouring the vitality of outer nature, re-wilding the inner nature of the human being is essential. Through connection with an inner morality and embracing the fullness of creative collaboration, we are exploring bamboo architecture and a fresh imagination of the richness of simplicity in life. This process is involving collaboration with others, both local and international, the long-term vision being to facilitate an immersive space for deeply creative insight and investigation.
A symbiotic flourishing of the place and the human is ready to be the next chapter for this biome, allowing the wholeness of nature to reach its full potential. We are guests to Soná; it is our home and our dreamspace.
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Rainforest living is the primary experience within which all our activities are based. Aspects of the lifestyle at Soná facilitate learning about ways of nourishing the self and nourishing the land through our everyday actions (such as plant-based foods, composting, movement/yoga, a primarily outdoor lifestyle). Our visitors have expressed gratitude for having experienced a heart-felt respect for nature, awareness of our impact on surrounding ecologies and connection with the rainforest's abundant resources in ways that they hadn't felt before.
The creation of a bamboo architecture that is deeply rooted in a sense of place brings about an embodied experience of the organic qualities of building. The hands-on bamboo construction experience includes development of construction skills, learning about the building process and connecting with the poetics of a space that is integrated into the landscape. There is a real joy in the cultural exchange that takes place in our team, when local rural Colombian culture comes together with our backgrounds of architectural practice in the UK.
You are invited to join a bamboo construction team which comprises local craftspeople and international volunteers including students of architecture. This is a great place to spend time with like-minded people and create as a team of inspired individuals. From 25th July until 16th August we are hosting a group volunteering project to create a 'Chamber of Wonder'. Bamboo will be the main construction material and work will include all aspects of developing a bamboo architecture, from creating curved beams to connecting bamboo poles to foundation stones.
Skills that are valuable for this experience include creativity, resourcefulness, a sense of adventure, thriving as part of a team, physical craftsmanship and use of tools (sawing, doweling, drilling, etc). We welcome all levels of experience with an enthusiasm for learning and adaptability.
At this stage in the project, tree-tents facilitate our dwelling. They provided shelter and enable an enlivening period of sleep amongst the rainforest canopies.
Plant-based food fuels the body and nourishes our action based lifestyle. We are in the early stages of creating a rainforest garden and sometimes have the pleasure of eating home grown vegetables. From June 2019 onwards, preparing and eating these delicious foods will take place in the bamboo kitchen we are currently completing.
Other bamboo structures which are part of our everyday life include a composting bathroom and a plant propagation space.
As part of a fairly physical lifestyle, rest days are very important to us. Our week has a rhythm of 1-2-1-2-1 (one day of rest followed by two days of construction, such that we build on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays).
There are many restorative spaces and activities to enjoy at Soná, including rainforest walks, bathing in the streams, catching some sun, and getting into a creative flow through bamboo craft, painting, music, writing, ...
The lively nearby towns of San Carlos and San Rafael can be reached by tuk-tuks or chivas (forms of local transport) for some immersion in local culture and visiting other popular sights, for hiking and bathing.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Max 25 hours a week with 3 days off