Incongruous Monolith by Constance Vale

Constance Vale from the Yale School of Architecture, designed this project around the question of a monolith and the three primary formal strategies employed in recognizing a monolithic structure. The first quality is an “upturned” or “tilted” appearance as if weight had displaced volume over time.

Arch2o-Incongruous Monolith  Constance Vale (8)

 Courtesy of Constance Vale

The second is dematerialization of the ground in which there is a predominant shift from the horizontal to the vertical and the majority of the mass is above the ground plane. And finally, the primitives are made to “interpenetrate” leading to confusion between the animate and inanimate and a sense of motion.

Arch2o-Incongruous Monolith  Constance Vale (6)

 Courtesy of Constance Vale

Keeping in mind these three points, the resultant monolith design begins to take the form of a slightly lifted pyramid, with its internal primitives acting as narrow tunnels. Inside an atrium carries light through the structure and the convergence of primitives provides circulation space on the lower horizontal levels. The pores of the micro-texture in the vertical forms of the building allow views from the adjacent floor plates.

Arch2o-Incongruous Monolith  Constance Vale (9)

 Courtesy of Constance Vale

The design is meant to create a false top-heaviness in which the monolith retains an inward looking attitude as though it were a single object folding back on itself. This effect is juxtaposed through a texture that conveys a faux transparency of the figure in its multiple, overlaid, offsets and rotations. This strategy transfers to the interior in a field of moray-like columns that provide structure and suggests a thick transparent volume. In the end this project exploits everything architects recognize as defining a monolithic structure and attempts to combine those elements with something new to create a unique experience.

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