I was invited to submit a design for a remote 10-room resort complex in the Arabian Desert.
Rather than mimic the natural landscape, or use tortured logic to claim “sympathy” with the site, I have proposed an architecture that is unapologetically “un-natural” (as all architecture is, if we are honest) and burying it in the site materials. This approach is so unheard of in current architecture that it almost disqualifies it from the start. However, by honestly expressing the current relationship between nature and culture I am able to make architecture that illuminates both sides of the equation and redefines the beauty of each. The truth is more interesting than a lie.
The project starts off with a sculpture- a half buried Gold Lamborghini. This sets the understanding of the architecture as a sculptural object rather than abstract planes and spaces, and locates the it in the complex geo-cultural present.
This building can be understood as two different architectural orders. The long walls that cross the site and intersect at the flooded pool courtyard almost feel like a ruin, ancient and half-buried. The walls set up an organization to the site and mark a consistent line at the top that dramatizes how the earth rises and falls against them , and there is a repeated vocabulary of doors and fireplaces that occur inside and outside of buildings- suggesting that they precede the buildings. The building elements are light and transparent, and are built around and on the heavy walls.
Is the architecture being swallowed by the desert? Is it a ruin that is emerging from the desert after being buried eons ago? The answer is yes- both. The expression is of a geological timeframe that pulls people out of the everyday and into the vast time and space of the desert.
The walls are a sculpted representation of padded upholstery panels. This idea has the basic structure of a surrealist object- the form suggests softness, yet the material is hard- a conundrum that energizes it. The weightlessness and outward “pressure” suggested in the creases and irregular curves confounds modem and traditional sculpture fundamentals… and makes the walls representational, and somewhat figurative, “objects” rather than abstract planes.
Avant-garde (and built) architecture will push past the limitations of abstract formalism, and it will at some point start to incorporate figure, representation and conceptual content as this project does. I’ll be here.