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Exploring Macrocosmic Ideals in a Microcosmic Setting

Part 1 Project 2012
Laura Carroll
Dublin Institute of Technology Ireland
The context for this project was Dublin - A new Cultural Corridor along Dublin's most ancient path.

A brief was chosen that would enhance existing potentials of the corridor. I interrogated a green field site in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. This fortified site is imposing and intimate, monumental yet domestic. The proposal reflects this creating a monumental form with an intimate interior space.

I chose as a vehicle, for this enhancement, a planetarium. Astronomy Ireland has 13,000 members, it’s the largest national astronomy club in the world (relative to population), but lacks headquarters or place to conduct lectures or hold exhibitions.

My design explores the relationship between macrocosm and microcosm, between organic and artificial forms, through the echoed and mirrored structures of the star park and formal garden demonstrates the processes of replication and reiteration between primary and secondary structures.

This meteoritic building sits in the landscape with jewel-like bronze skin emulating astronomical instruments of the past. The visitor is immersed in a world of discovery, contemplation and knowledge. They are transported through space and time, an exploration of sky guided by the building’s geometry which is taken from its relationship to the land and sky and the universe it represents inside.

The building is constructed of interdependent structures; a skin wraps the building like a garment concealing the structure behind. The interplay of elements questions the role of function and ornament. Ornament is derived from planetarium typology where projection domes were traditionally captured within a secondary space, needing perforations to function.

Ornament becomes function.

It is never applied, is performative, acts as a way-finder and hints to spaces beyond. It shifts between transparency and opacity, creating a dynamic ephemeral space. A labyrinth of interlinking rooms de-contextualized the user.

All notions of ground and earth dissolve.

Only sky remains.

The design seeks to make the user aware of macrocosmic ideas through the exploration of a microcosm. (God is in the detail)... Through granting the user a heightened awareness of sky, through concealing and revealing sky spaces, the user's perception is altered upon leaving the space.

Laura Carroll


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