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Re-constructed stalactites. Draped formations.

Part 2 Project 2012
Sema Orouk
American University of Sharjah, UAE
Compositional elements, images, and allusions of drapery that are in a state of transformation or becoming portray a moment of meditation. These wavering forms become undefined through frantic manipulation. What starts out as compositional elements soon becomes manipulated into architecture of a mosque with a new understanding of spirituality.

The main inspiration of this project is the dynamic aesthetic found in ancient sculptures which emphasize the natural folding of drapery. The significance of the folded drapery stems largely from the fact that it presents to the spectator the main form of the clothed human figure which is the upholding structure. Another inspiration is the formation process of stalactites. This includes the deposition of calcium carbonate and other minerals which are precipitated from mineralized water solutions. As this solution drips down; it comes into contact with air, and the chemical reaction that created it is reversed and particles of calcium carbonate are deposited resulting in a form that’s frozen with the force of gravity.

Accordingly, the project developed through a series of physical and digital experiments investigating techniques to freeze the folds of drapery. The aim was to create surfaces that hang on a frame and develop natural folds creating complex structures consisting of multiple intersecting catenary arches.
Using a frame structure to form the space, and porous drapery to stimulate the growth of stalactites, the outcome becomes a new vision of an isolated space for prayer and worship. The proposed architecture becomes a plug-in that gets inserted into caves where it can control the natural process in which stalactites grow.

In this proposal, the idea of meditation and prayer becomes celebrated by creating a journey into the cave throughout the day. The form responds to the position of the sun in the sky according to the different timings of prayer throughout the day. This exploration becomes one that finds possibilities of blurring the line between the natural and the man-made space. It is an attempt to bring back the main essence of prayer which is the contemplation of nature as a way to communicate with the creator.

Sema Orouk


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