Bas van Abel (Waag Society) and Charles Thuijls (independant mudbuilder) on the construction site.

You can design anything you like.

You need lots of mud to do some serious mudbuilding.

Playing around on the computer until the design is perfect.


With PICNIC Festival 2011 well into the second day, people are starting to notice the architectural buildings that seem to be growing in front of the Outdoor Cinema. What are they? And who are the busy bees working on it? Bas van Abel, creative director of Waag Society, takes a few minutes to clean off his hands and explain what he’s doing.

‘We are hypercrafting the modern landscape’, he says. That sounds very interesting, but what does it mean? ‘Ever since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve been building in mass production. It was simply too difficult or expensive to create, say, a brick that has a different form.‘ But nowadays, he says, we can use a computer program to make any design as complicated or extraordinary as we wish for. And we have the machines to produce it, for example, with a 3-D printer.

This combination of computer technology and modern machinery can be looked at as 21st century craftsmanship. This means we can all build anything that comes up in our minds.

The Waag Society team took this 21st-century crafting and combined it with ecological building. Van Abel: ‘This is a 21st-century trend as well. Building with materials that you can find in your own backyard is much more sustainable than getting it shipped in from another continent. A popular material in European backyards is mud or clay.’

Therefore, Waag Society brought together a team of designers, architects and craftsmen. They are combining ancient earth building techniques with computer-generated design. This digital fabrication in architecture makes it possible to transfer designs made on a computer to computer controlled machinery that creates actual building component. This is what they call: hypercrafting. But you can think of it as ancient Africa meets modern Europe as well.

During the three days of PICNIC, this hypercrafted architecture will be growing every day. Festival attendees that like to get their hands dirty can help out whenever they like. Just curious what all this mudbuilding looks like? Go find the Outdoor Cinema (located next to the PICNIC Club) and watch it grow for yourself.