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Holy Island Monastery

Part 2 Project 2001
Magnus Strom
University of Portsmouth, UK
Le Corbusier's La Tourette was the first building that ever moved me, and this phenomenon sparked an interest in researching an architecture that could affect my feelings.

I do believe in an architecture that moves me, and I have found it to be composed through a humanistic and natural approach, with a belief in the obvious and faith in the simplest things that can create beauty in architecture. Beauty becomes apparent when a building comes together as a whole, with an architecture that does not stir up emotions, but lets emotions emerge with time spent there, an architecture striving for a completeness where there is nothing you can add or subtract from the architecture, a building with integrity and presence, a design that is happy being itself.

Through my thesis, I tried to investigate through drawing and modelling how a beautiful and poetic architecture could be composed with a humanistic and natural approach, with the basic things that architecture is made from. Structure, details, material and order formed a seminal part of my approach as well as the process of "building" architecture. My thesis proposition however, was not trying to deprive architecture of iconic representation, nor that of architectural form, but rather trying to emphasise an architecture that needs to be rooted in the real, based on people, nature, and a tectonic expression.

Architects of today seem to forget the simple basic rules that can make architecture beautiful and poetic, instead being absorbed by a reflection of our culture at present, that, "manifest motion instead of stability, the ephemeral instead of the perpetual, the fragmented instead of the whole and the fictitious instead of the real" .

Architectural beauty should not be there to shock us, forced upon us, or for effect. It should be radiated through its composure, integrity and the emanated beauty that is not trying to be anything it is not... but, being an act of building.

1 Rafael Moneo's Pritzker prize winning speach

Magnus Strom

Following a study trip to Jorn Utzon's Bagsvaerd church in Copenhagen and Peter Zumthor's Sogn Benedetg chapel in Switzerland, a dissertation evolved that explored the idea of a sublime architecture made from 'basic things', the beauty that can be derived from materials and construction. This led to a search for the 'poetics of construction' through a project for a Buddhist retreat on holy island.

Whilst a monastic life may seem about denial in some ways, this design strove for a purity in spirit and in its making that would inspire to achieve a wholeness: a concrete frame provides the cage into which timber cells are inserted, with a large cut-out off centre in the linear form allows the mountainside to enter the building. Behind this linear block, a continuous labryinthine gabion wall wraps the main yoga and prayer halls, expressed in roof form against the mountain. The resultant design shows a clarity and a search for the irreducible, a composed architectural beauty that has presence in a natural setting, a design that is happy being itself.

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