When I was 12 years old my family visited the Anasazi cliff dwellings at Canyon de Chelly in northern Arizona. The preserved ruins had a profound affect on me and I’ve been drawn to man made interventions on the natural landscape since. Speciﬁcally, interventions where the earth is carved away and an order is applied to the natural characteristics of a site. At Betatakin, as the sweeping cliff face was acted upon by human consciousness, an evocative and symbiotic relationship was created between the landscape and the new constructed environment. These vernacular constructs were intuitive, instinctive and local responses to context.
Eight years later I visited Rome as an architecture student with these interests still in tact. I was drawn to the Italian vernacular, one steeped in masonry. Local materials are reorganized to create space. Through carving and stacking, the landscape is manipulated to create emotionally evocative spaces, like those of the dwellings carved into the side of a cliff… physically and emotionally heavy architecture. Material is added, material is pared away, the buildings are the mass and the spaces inside are the sculpted voids. In reﬂecting on my body of work, academically and professionally, these fundamental interests in architecture: MASS and VOID, weave their way from project to project.
I am proposing an investigation of the architectural ideas of mass and void. over varying scales. Comparing scale in the city, in the street, in the building, in the room and in the object, the investigation will look at how these varying scales elicit an emotional response through experience.
Drawing is the medium through which the investigation will be carried out. How the investiga- tion is conducted is equally important to subject of the investigation, using fundamental tools to explore, study and document fundamental architectural ideas in scale:
Pencil [2H, HB, 2B, 4B]
Pen [ﬁne tipped]
Walking, sitting, looking
Sensing [listen, touch, smell, taste]
*the camera can be a crutch, can speed up the investigation, but important to the documentation
The act of slowing down is critical to the investigation. Slowness is the method of measuring, measuring in the sense of carefully considering the subject… an almost scientiﬁc query to discover the emotional quality. Slowness is critical to seeing, identifying, documenting and learning. This patience allows time for the hand to move across the page, time to observe actions thoughtfully. As I document, changes are not mistakes, but a record of what I am seeing. The page is the evidence of the history of the study, the interpretation of the constructs. The investigations are not snap shots, they are places and objects that exist across seconds, minutes, days and years. In a profession increasingly overrun by computer aided drafting, this proposal is a pursuit of character and quality in architectural thought.
In 1995 I returned from a study abroad program in Europe with a focused appreciation of the ideas that inspire me and a conﬁdence that my own work could stand up to these ideas. I returned from this trip an immeasurably better architect. This once in a lifetime opportunity will provide a timely break in my professional career to pursue a focused investigation that will shape and inﬂuence my future as an architect.