Sunday, February 14, 2010


Tentagon (known also as “Birdhouse” and “The Yurt”) is a fort somewhere in the woods above Pine Hill above Hairpin Turn. Construction was started sometime before summer of 2008, and ceased in the fall (Tentagon was never fully completed before the end of construction). It's supports were cut with a chainsaw after a forest fire which claimed an acre and a half, more or less, was started by a careless fire from within the fort.

The structure is made of inexpensive materials, mostly wood, nails and a plastic banner sign for a roof. These materials reflect the budget of the craftsmen responsible, next to nothing. The style of the hut is reminiscent of a yurt which is where one of its names likely originates. The hexagonal layout suggests a level of order and technical skill not present in other forts of the surrounding area.

The structure has been used as a party spot, which one can deduce for themselves by not only the level of alcohol related refuse but also the nature of the graffiti adorning the walls of the interior. Due to it's out of the way location and near invisibility from the nearby roadway it has been utilized as a place to hide underaged drinking. Although the fort is deep in the woods, its cover is broken during the early spring and late fall as it's plastic roofing is a bright white that is hard to miss from the nearby trails among the many shades of brown.

As previously stated the design is more orderly and specialized that that of other such forts in the area, requiring more construction skills than the average stick hut. Tentagon has many moderately complex angled cuts, not easily accomplished in the woods. Judging by the location it is safe to assume that the fort was constructed by students attending alfred university, which means that the building was planned and carried out by people who are about 17 to 23 years of age, using no more than basic hand tools.

It seems that of the known forts on campus Tentagon and the nearby Tree Tree are the two most thoughtfully designed. Tree Tree is a treehouse almost directly below Tentagon on the hill, Although it is larger and (as it as constructed in a tree) more technically well executed, Tentagon offered more security as it is both higher up the hill allowing for better vantage to see anyone approaching and easier to vacate in the case of an emergency (where Tree Tree is two stories up a rope ladder).

The design has had a negative impact of the local environment in as it is not only an inlet for large quantities of litter, but also as it was the catalyst for a small forest fire in the area. Yet the building itself was built with what appear to be mostly discarded materials.

What is most interesting in the case of the forest forts is to see the advancement of techniques from one to the next, and the human desire to always make something better than what already exists. One of the more common style forts is the lean to stick hut which can be constructed by one person in a short period of time, many forts of this style have been built and destroyed. The more permanent huts are much larger undertakings sometimes as in the case of Tentagon not “completed” by those that began them, with work stretched out between multiple semesters possibly even years.

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