In 2012, an unmarked plywood crate arrived at Allied Works, with only a message within: “Fill this with what inspires you.” The box was part of an exhibition (conceived by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien) to be installed at Venice Architecture Biennale. Entitled “Wunderkammer”, the exhibition expands on the Biennale theme of “Common Ground”; 100 architects, artists, thinkers and writers were given identical containers, which were assembled in a centuries-old warehouse in the Venetian district of Castello.

For Allied Works, our home is in Oregon, and our inspiration lies in the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. It is a place formed by violent forces that have over time yielded places of tremendous power, vitality and beauty. The raw materials that are abundant here—timber, basalt, obsidian—are records of change. Each substance is a site, a locus of potential. Lined with mirrors, the box is filled with a field of found and collected raw materials from across Oregon; each has been shaped or altered by hand to reveal new aspects, and lay bare the dialogue between material, place, craft and intention that is at the heart of architectural practice.