The fascination awoken by far-off places, on the limits of human existence, places where it may be better to pass through than to stay, or where remaining always involves a vague sense of threat (a condition, since Romanticism, that underlies the aesthetic experience).
The island as a closed, finite place, with endemism as a possibility. The island as the place of the omnipresent horizontal limit. Islands, finite, enclosed spaces: the limit as condition and presence, as unifying moment. Small worlds in some cases extended by repetition: the archipelago, at times an architectural metaphor. Now we have to add the transformation brought about by tourism and modernity. Cosmopolitanism versus endemism.
The desert, conversely, has no limits: indefinite and infinite. It can only be inhabited through movement; nomadism is a necessary condition of survival.Establishing links between the desert and architecture entails imagining an object facing its antagonist, a zero degree of the exterior: infinite, extreme, mobile and incomprehensible. It also implies recalling that which architecture possesses of protection, of the interior, of opposition to nature. The desert seemed to be a good metaphor for starting to recognise ideas, places and essential architectures.
The mountain as experience of the vertical limit; as an attempt to fly, the Icarus syndrome with its possible ending.The architectures that we find so intensely here also draw on the relation between tradition and present, between endemism and cosmopolitanism. The mountain as topographical irregularity, as inclination, where we, necessarily, have to introduce flatness, the horizontal surface. Tension between the ascending verticality of the earth and the need to build the horizontal—our habitat.
In these cases, the refuge finds its primal expression. Architecture – that prosthesis sometimes necessary for survival – is presented in its initial condition. As degree zero. Source and photos Courtesy of Mateo Arquitectura.