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The Bridge of Alchemy, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Part 2 Project 2011
Natasha Butler
Joshua Kievenaar
University of Portsmouth, UK
This portfolio uses the ‘act’ of pilgrimage as narrative to explore a phenomenological journey within the Moroccan landscape. It proposes a center for ritual and retreat settled within the Atlas Mountains.

According to Satish Kumar, a pilgrim sees life as a sacred journey, where the earth is home and the universe is a process. When a pilgrim sets forth they are dedicated to nature, and leave behind feelings of fear, anxiety, doubt and worry. Thus the pilgrimage becomes a state of mind, a state of consciousness, and a state of fearlessness.

The act of walking is essential to a pilgrimage. It connects us with the earth and the perspiration is good, washing ourselves from inside. It becomes a step of completion towards self-realisation, and the participation in the process can have an individual meaning and motivation.

The journey converges man with water, and water with fire. The underlying concept involves the expressed processes taken from the continuity of everyday experience, not single events but a chain. The chain is made up of Moroccan rituals both individual and collective; a harmonised interaction between user and process.

Through bridging, the narrative explores ideas of ‘hereness’ and ‘otherness’ to revitalise the steep Setti Fatma valley. Working the land becomes a way of engaging in the journey, enabling a better understanding and appreciation for the essential tasks that make up our everyday existence.

The journey commences from the Frame at dawn to the Tower of Wind at sunset. The buildings and landscape structures are optimised at specific times in the day. Steeped in tradition and culture, they embody the emotive and immeasurable qualities of man and nature. Smooth progression of spaces articulated and integrated with the landscape allow for an improved connection to the land.

The traveller explores the landscape through their senses. The ever-existent sound of water guides them along the terraces and courtyards of mint draws the pilgrim into a shaded retreat. When the landscape becomes increasingly challenging, the traveller is led by firelight, smoke and whispered tales. Through this landscape will experience various transitions; a transformation from a working environment to a relaxing and contemplative state.

Natasha Butler
Joshua Kievenaar


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