Friday, April 8, 2011

On the seventh day...

Much has happened between, but now it is time for a much needed update.

The Cirque training centre has given me much difficulty. Initially, I began with the idea of using words to guide my design process. Cirque defines itself with three; dexterity, grace and daring.

I tried to create a form that encapsulated all of this by designing something that gave visitors a feeling of floating, or bringing them to another plane that they couldn't be on otherwise.

That led me to this:

Forms hovering above the ground, with the idea of ascension present in most of the early schemes. However, the bulkiness of the program, such as the height of the training spaces made it feel much less graceful and dexterous than I intended. And so, I scrapped it.

Then I read. Rick Joy is an architect from Tucson, Arizona who seems to be getting some attention these days. His semi-recent book, desert works, has a foreword by Steven Holl, and an introduction by Juhani Pallasmaa, which is where I have found my new inspiration.

Pallasmaa writes about the desert in a way that made me think of it as something other than just sand and rock.

"The immense emptiness of desert landscapes such as the African and Australian Sand deserts or the all white expanses of snow above the Polar Circle, radiating a strange appeal and emotional power. These settings erase the traces of man and evoke an experience of timelessness. The total absence of vegetation exposes the naked skin of the earth and turns the landscape into a tactile and muscular experience. Landscape becomes an extension of the human skin.


It is probably the sublime vastness and the sense of a divine void that has attracted these artists. The desert floor provides the tabula rasa for creative work that breaks from the confined and conditioned spaces of cities and museums. It gives a new context to the endeavours and products of modern man. A rusting carcass of a car appears brutal in a setting of lush greenery, but appears a fragile memento of human vulnerability and the vanity of human effort under the desert sun."

This has inspired me to think of the flat landscape as something much more than a spot to 'place' the building, but to think of the ground as something that will become a part of the building.

But what form will it take? How will it be fully resolved? Stay tuned.


  1. Damn you. Reading this just gave me an idea for quite a different building then the one I'm currently working on. Guess I'll have to save that one for some other time...

  2. ...just be mindful that a noticeable outcropping of earth is just as artificial and subject to scrutiny as a building in an environment as sparse and clean as a desert!