Connected Architecture, Architectural Article, Building Dialogue, Projects, Design

Connected Buildings : Architectural Dialogue

Architecture Discussion by Guido Maclellan

23 Aug 2011

Connected Buildings

Modern life seems to dictate a pace of living that is fast with instantaneous needs and responses and with little time for stepping off the treadmill and making more meaningful connections with who we are and our relationship with nature. This is the focus of the Connected Buildings article.

Connected Buildings, Architecture: Guido Maclellan
Guido Maclellan

The connections I‘m referring to are with our inner thoughts and feelings, basic human emotions. Connecting with each other and with our natural environment.

There are beautiful buildings and natural landscapes in the world that help us make this connection, some are spiritual, some are ancient with their original meaning lost, yet their mysterious past is embodied with a power and presence that touch our inner self, (if we allow it to).

Architecture has the power to connect us to these deeper meanings, emotions and thoughts that have been archived away and forgotten about in the pace of modern living.

In my opinion these two buildings have a connection with each other that goes beyond the materials used, or the way light and movement has been so thoughtfully designed.

The similarity of meaning is that they share the power to connect with us, the visitor, and also with the context of nature.

The memorial for 9 girls, Parque Birentenario, Vitacura, Chile
Gonzalo Mardones Viviani & Asociados
M9 Chile - Connected Buildings
photograph : Nicolás Saieh
M9 / Memorial for 9 girls

The design is a simple diagram. The memorial is sunk into the ground in a parkland setting. Access is by a gradual ramp which arrives in a circular sanctuary space filled with natural light from the open roof.

There are similar references is to an ancient Nuraghian monument in Sardegna, which is also below ground with light flooding in from above. Its ancient meaning lost but it’s presence is powerful.

Prayers and memories are focused within the tranquillity of the sanctuary as there are no visual distractions from the above outside world.

There is a repeating theme in the memorials design. The number 9 is used in the structural dimensions, the number of lanterns, the width of the roof opening.

For me it is the subtle reference to structural dimensions of nature and the number 9 by the planting a Magnolia tree. (9 leaves onto each one of it’s flowers) This may not be obvious to the visitor, but the symbolic meaning, and the connection with nature is a beautiful offering to a place of peace and rest from the world above.

The Magnolia tree will flower once a year for a short time, it’s flowers are spectacular. This happening will change the character of the sanctuary, as the floor will become a carpet of colour. It marks a moment in time, nature’s time, similar to that of an equinox.

Sunset Chapel, Acapulco, Mexico
BNKR Arqitectura, Mexico
Sunset Chapel - Connected Buildings
image : Esteban Suárez
Sunset Chapel

In contrast to the Memorial, this chapel is very much above ground. The conceptual form of the building influenced by the site, and in particular the gigantic rock formation. The concrete structure is raw and bold.

A tension and dynamic is created by the closeness of the man-made chapel to the existing rocks from nature.

Similar to the memorial, the entrance experience or promenade is thoughtful and aligned with the overall building concept.

A cavity in the concrete invites the visitor inside the rock. Stairs lead up to the high-level chapel. The chapel and its cross are orientated to aligned with the sun’s equinox. Nature’s way of marking time.

Like the memorial building, the chapel uses concrete as a surface to receive the natural light. The shadows, and the rich brown colours of the setting sun, offer a constantly changing atmosphere to the chapel.

In my opinion, both these projects are crafted in a simple and beautiful way. The architecture is an offering to help us connect with ourselves, our God and nature, and maybe for a short time gives us the space for a peaceful soul and a restful mind in a fast moving world.

Comments on this Connected Buildings post are welcome.

Guido Maclellan

Guido Maclellan Architects

Guido Maclellan is the CEO of GMA and Greenlight Renewables.

Both offices are based in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

They have International and UK projects.

Architectural Designs

Paloma Music Venue, Nimes, France – architecture news
Paloma Nimes
photo : Stéphane Chalmeau

Mediatheque in Lons le Saunier, France
Design: Du Besset-Lyon Architectes
Lons le Saunier Library & Cinema
photo © Philippe Ruault

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, Tokyo, Japan
Tange Associates Architects
Cocoon Tower Tokyo
photo : Koji Horiuchi

Architectural Articles

Seasonal Architecture : article by Trevor Tucker. 15 Feb 2011

Resisting Boredom : article by Joyce Hwang. 25 Jan 2011

Design Narrative : article by Lee Miles – 7 Sep 2010

Planetization Architecture : article by Mphethi Morojele – 17 Aug 2010

Comments / photos for the Connected Architecture Article by Guido Maclellan Architect page welcome