Date of Award

8-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Architecture

Major

Architecture

Major Professor

Scott Wheland Wall

Committee Members

Tracy Moir-McClean, Curtis E. Stewart

Abstract

The words of Octavio Paz, from his Drift of Shadows, poetically describe the cycle of water in nature involving the erosion and weathering of stone by the force of water, further enhanced by the force of wind. This succession of events in nature is one of inter-dependency. It is also one of temporality: one element of nature perpetually affecting another, a temporality engaging elements either by impeding or by propelling.

The landscape embraces, as created or destroyed by these natural forces. So, too, does architecture. As a natural force,flooding intrudes upon the landscape endangers architecture by filling the low-lying space with water, thus altering architecture and the perception of that space, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Erosion is an offspring of moving water that occurs more subtly, more gradually, over a long period of time and alters the landscape by way of addition and subtraction. As water immerses the land, it [the water] moves and moves sediment with it. Whole some land is sheared of its topsoil and stones are smoothed of their roughness (subtraction), other land is deposited with the richness of the sediment through the force of the water that carried it (addition). The photograph (Figure 1) of Ciudad Encantada (the Enchanted City) near Madrid, Spain, evokes a strong imagery of the consequence of the subtractive quality of erosion. One imagines that these boldly-cantilevered structures were once stoic with their uniform connection to the earth and connected to each other, forming ground at a higher plane. Water, however, was relentless over time and eroded the sandstone into a cavernous garden of stone pillars. Time and weather, as conjoined elements of nature, act upon the material of architecture with an inevitable and implacable force.

Time and Man are the architects in partnership with nature. Architecture, therefore has an obligation, to not only its place, but also to respect these elements as co-designers. An architecture can be created that is both responsive and proactive to the dimension of time and the dynamic of nature over time.

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