Winner Proposal for the YAP-CONSTRUCTO 2012/13 (MoMA–PS1 ‘Young Architects Program’) Beals – Lyon Architects Nowadays, being always online, connected and available, mobile technology has mostly erased any space for leisure and quietness. If we compare the ‘Flanèur’ -the bohemian, daydreamer or cultured person who had time to stroll in the city- with the ‘Commuter’, the person who has to travel every day from home to work with the pressure to convert that time into a productive space, it is possible to see that what is lacking is really that space and time ‘in between’, now converted as an imperative space for production by modern society. The otherwise ‘unproductive gaps’ somehow need to be filled. We believe that slowness can be promoted by a certain darkness or blurriness of the boundaries that limit a space. Thus, if a sharp line that clearly defines and divides is blurred, it can be converted into a buffer zone or liminal space, limen signifying ‘threshold’ in Latin (Turner, 1969). A feeling of being in two places and in neither at the same time; an environment whose diffuse or blurred condition promotes the existence not only of space, but also of time, in-between, allowing an intense and bodily experience. We find in the obscure woods of Francesco Colonna’s ‘Hypnetoromachia Poliphili’ an example of liminal space. Poliphilo, the protagonist, dreams that he is in a quiet and solitary desert. Looking for his love he enters unadvisedly a dark and unfrequented wood (Fig. 1). He gets lost, and in his search, stumbles on mysterious temples and Dionysian rites (Coates, 2012). This dark wood creates the medium to start perceiving with the whole body, where the sensual experience is at the centre of the narrative. Similarly, in our proposal for the YAP-Constructo 2012/13, ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’, by means of constructing a maze, we aim to create an environment of slowness; a new scale for leisure and the unforeseen in a park that is otherwise insistently being pushed and transformed into a productive and lucrative space. Just as Poliphilo in his dream, we would like the visitors to get lost, leaving the rush of the city behind. This quietness will eventually allow them to perceive on a different way: slow, paused, useless, thus establishing a connection with their bodies through an unexpected sensual experience. This could bring a whole new understanding of space, capable to locate the body, back at the centre of architecture. The site of the intervention is found in the Southwest corner of the Parque Araucano, at the highest point on a hill, surrounded by native trees. Its position is inscribed within a perimeter path, and itself implies a certain distance and discovery of the park. In this trail we have attempted to create a knot, a series of consecutive bifurcations; a system that proposes new rules, a new pace; an instrument that promotes a multi-sensorial perception and experience of the landscape that surrounds it. A pavilion in the park is usually seen as an isolated form read against the landscape, built to be perceived only visually from the outside. On the other hand, typologies like the enclosed garden, the grotto and the labyrinth are conceived from within, demanding a certain exploration and experience of their understanding. They have an ambiguous nature: they are simultaneously natural and artificial, interior and exterior, public and private, leaving space for the interpretation of both their significance and the situations that can occur within them. With the labyrinth as a medium, the project creates a narrative of situations of discovery and surprise, exploring the possibilities of public space by introducing a series of new atmospheres and ambiences. To achieve this, we use a vegetal mass that creates a blurry or low-resolution environment, promoting perception through all the senses. This cornfield is explored through a system of timber paths built with recycled scaffolding planks. The whole structure is painted yellow, distinguishing it from the predominantly green landscape. Its geometric layout is borrowed from the labyrinth in the gardens of Versailles (Fig. 2), which we have deformed and adapted to include a series of spaces in the form of rooms or ´follies´, openings in the path, spaces for unexpected and unforeseen situations and events. The trail begins and ends in a larger, yard like space, a meeting place from which slight views give clues as to the happenings within the interior. This space along with the system of pathways simultaneously allows for the potential of both collective activity and personal experience and exploration. Watering systems in the four corners of the maze are activated at certain intervals, suddenly changing the atmospherical conditions. It is this as well as a central pool and light materials floating in the interior spaces, which freshen the atmosphere. The vegetal mass will be literally eaten by the visitants, its remaining degrading in the ground below. Also, the whole structure is modular, allowing for its dismantlement and re-location in another site permitting, perhaps, that another overlooked section of the city can be rediscovered, and the potential for its public use, explored. ******** Bibliography Coates, Nigel (2012) Narrative Architecture, London: Wiley Colonna, Francesco (1499) Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Venice: 1499 Turner, V (1969) The ritual process: structure and anti-structure, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p.94 Illustrations Fig 1 – ‘Poliphilo enters a dark, gloomy forest’. Francesco Colonna, ‘Hypnetoromachia Poliphili’, c.1499 (Colonna, 1499) As I wonder through the park I see a sight on the farthest hill; a sight that grasps me from afar. A golden field from which towers and translucent structures emerge. I make my way towards it and find a narrow platform. A suspended path of rough timber planks. I decide to jump onto it. When closer to the golden field I come to understand it as a plantation of corn into which I can enter through a small opening on one of its corners. As I enter the maze, the city behind starts to disappear. I am alone. The path is narrow and the corn walls rise above me and into the sky; the wind moves the papery leaves and I can feel them touching my skin. I hear a gentle murmur of distant pursuits- voices, footsteps, but I see no one. The path soon bifurcates. I decide to continue left. Soon, I come to an opening in the field; a half cylinder room where fruits and vegetables grow and people sit and eat around a large wooden table. I continue on my solitary path, hearing in the distance the sounds of splashing water and children playing. But what I feel is a sudden mist falling on me. The sky is clear, though. I hurry. Then, I enter another room, a cube this time; a large net covers its floor. I can lie on it. I close my eyes. Smells of lavender and mint come from below. I want to see more. The pathway divides again, and again, and again. Now, I am completely lost. But I can still hear the distant sounds of children playing in the water. I enter a new room, similar to the first one, but noises of birds and music fill the space this time. Left turn. It looks like I have found the exit. The pathway separates itself from the cornfield and as I leave the maze, I find myself in a part of the park I haven’t seen before. The whole landscape is clearly visible from here. There are people sitting below, having a pic-nic. I turn and see the maze now from the outside. The pathway leads me again into it and sooner than I wanted, I’m lost again. After a short time I find before me a vaporous fabric moving in the wind and suddenly, a round and shallow puddle appears. I can spy to the other side. Wet footprints on the timber reveal the recent presence of children. Now they are gone. I take a rest on a striped deckchair and dip my feet into the water. The lace net slowly undulates on the four sides of the room and I can only see the sky above me. I’ve lost track of time but the sun is low and shadows have formed on the fabric. Footsteps approach. Behind the fabric, a silhouette passes. I decide to go after it. This haven is mine.