DILLON DUNN 3505 Greenwood Drive | Hermitage, TN | 37076
I spend most of my time navigating between my skateboard, my camera, and architecture. While soaring down a mountain at 60mph on a piece of glorified plywood has little to do with spacemaking or picture-taking, these three passions all alter my understanding of my environment. The skateboarder is hyper-aware of texture and form – familiar with the grooves and facets of every skate-able surface. The photographer is attuned to light and shadow, constantly adjusting the camera’s aperture. The architect asks “how can texture, form, light, and shadow coalesce into a structure that is culturally sustainable?”. During my time at the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design, this interest in cultural sustainability led to a passion for research that has taken me across the planet. From investigating first-century palatial ruins on the Roman Forum to conducting international research on the architecture of religious pilgrimage, these experiences furthered my passion for creating architecture that is symbiotically tethered to the culture in which it is placed. Cultural sustainability and my experiences in international research are the foundation of my design thinking and guide the projects included in this portfolio. Just as skateboarding and photography make me aware of the unique textures, shadows and forms of my built environment, I believe that architecture has a responsibility to enhance the distinct textures and forms of the communities into which it is placed.
STUDIO Harmonia de Terra | A Vertical Monastery in New Mexico
Fabrication Forum | An Urban Workshop in Cracow, Poland
The Aileron | An Epicenter for Future Urban Trajectories
Parametric Modularity | Exploring Additive Manufacturing with Local Motors
The Interchange | A New Headquarters for the Tennessee Valley Authority
RESEARCH Aydelott Travel Scholarship | 20,000+ Miles of Architectural Research
HARMONIA DE TERRA A Vertical Monastery in New Mexico
Nestled in an eroded fissure of Mesa Prieta near New Mexico’s Abiquiu Reservoir, this proposal for a “Vertical Monastery” seeks solidarity with the landscape just as its inhabitants seek solidarity with God. Designed for the Catholic Cistercian Order, this retreat brings three key features of the Cistercian Monastic tradition into the modern era: harmony with the landscape, balance of work and prayer, and sacred seclusion. These criteria along with climatic considerations and the cultural criteria of the indigenous Native Americans were essential in the site selection and design of this monastery that seeks harmonia de terra, or harmony with the land. This proposal was bolstered by a research-intensive semester in which my colleagues and I investigated the history, culture, and architecture of both the Cistercian Order and the region, culminating in a 200-page booklet. While the research phase of the proposal was a collaborative effort, the design itself is an independent endeavor. This work was greatly influenced by my own independent research (to be discussed later), which investigates the ways that architecture sustains sacred experiences. In addition to strengthening my understanding of the design applications of research, this project helped me develope my rendering skills in V-Ray for Rhino as well as my knowledge of passive and active climate strategies. Historically, the Cistercians found sanctity through unity with the creations of their God, the Divine Architect. In response, the Vertical Monastery combines poetic and pragmatic criteria to create an architecture that facilitates the monks’ quest for this sacred solidarity.
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Fall 2017 Hansjoerg Goeritz Religious | Monastery 250,000sf
Cliffs of Mesa Prieta as a Natural Threshold
HARMONIA DE TERRA
Lent Retreat and Vertical Cistern Guide the Procession from the Chama River 06
HARMONIA DE TERRA
One of the primary ways that the Vertical Monastery hosts sacred experiences is through staggered natural thresholds. Situated nearly two miles from the nearest road (New Mexico Forest Service Road 151), the monastery enjoys complete seclusion and serenity while being cradled by the high cliffs of Mesa Prieta. To heighten this sense of seclusion and sanctity, other thresholds are accentuated by strategic design interventions. The Chama River and the proposed hydro-electric footbridge act as the initial threshold, followed by the crescent form of the mesa itself. Throughout this procession, the Lent Retreat atop the mesa as well as the vertical cistern at the northernmost extent of the site act as visual anchor points that guide pilgrims to the terraces of the monastery.
Relationship Between Abbey, Terraces, and the Natural Landscape
HARMONIA DE TERRA
Moment of Arrival, with Vertical Cistern Poised for Water Collection and Stack Ventilation
CISTERCIAN RHYTHM In addition to natural and designed thresholds, a large portion of the monastery’s sanctity is derived from the rhythm of Cistercian life. The Cistercians’ daily routine is governed largely by tradition and adherence to the principle of ora et labora, or “prayer and work”. The consistency of the monks’ schedule presents unique design challenges and opportunities. The dispersed programmatic organization of the complex capitalizes on this daily rhythm, allowing the monks to interact with both the temperate climate of Northern New Mexico and the designed landscape. This attention to daily rhythms is continued within the abbey. To regulate the harsh New Mexican light and to allow the monks to focus on their studies, baffles of scraped white plaster are placed over the apertures of the abbey. Small portions of select baffles are painted according to the colors of the liturgical calendar. In conjunction with the strategic puncturing of the steel facade, these panels emit traces of color during the major seasons of the liturgical calendar, such as Lent. In this way, the abbey allows the Cistercian Rhythm to interact with the timing of nature, hereafter referred to as the Arcadian Rhythm.
View of Abbey Looking East with Light Baffles
HARMONIA DE TERRA
Interior Experience of Abbey at the Beginning of Lent (indicated by the purple light)
ARCADIAN RHYTHM Consistent with Cistercian beliefs and traditions, the monasteryâ€™s interaction with nature is its greatest source of sanctity. Despite the temperate environment of Northern New Mexico, the availability of water is scarce. After analyzing the past 20 years of rainfall records, I discovered that the region enjoys an average of two rainfall events greater than 1.5 inches per year. Thus, water collection became a guiding design principle of the monastery. With over 200 acres of available catchment area, the valley functions as a natural cradle for life during rare events of rain. The limestone hardscape of the monastery directs this water to various cisterns located in the complexâ€™s substructure, totaling in 4.3 billion gallons of potential water collection that allows the monastery to be self-sustaining. The drawings at right showcase how the distinction between architecture and landscape is blurred as the monastery interacts with the Arcadian Rhythm of the New Mexican wilderness. The section through the dormitories and adjacent vineyard was studied in model form, as seen in the following pages.
View of Stacked Dormitories and Adjacent Vineyard
HARMONIA DE TERRA
View of Water Collection and Agricultural Strategies of the Monastery
To better understand the relationship between architecture and landscape and to explore the juxtaposition of various masonry types, a 1/4” = 1’-0” model was constructed of the dormitories and vineyard. This larger scale helped to more accurately simulate challenges of structural stability and roof weatherproofing that furthered my understanding of the design. The model also showcases the dialogue between the architecture and landscape, reinforcing the persistent theme of harmonia de terra.
HARMONIA DE TERRA
FABRICATION FORUM An Urban Workshop in Cracow, Poland
Situated on the northeastern fringes of downtown Cracow, the Fabrication Forum reinterprets historical typologies to create a space for collaboration, design, and the cross-pollination of the arts. Though the Cracow University of Technology’s (CUT) School of Architecture (highlighted in red at right) is a vibrant generator of design, the cavernous setback from the street and lack of accessible program alienates the institution from the district, limiting its potential. This project seeks to allay this issue by extending the procession from the Old City and by providing a contemporary maker space for use by both the students and surrounding community. To this end, a new master plan proposes additional programs such as a gallery and exterior event space. This project was influenced by an ambitious travel-oriented semester in which I traversed Europe with CUT faculty to study the urban development of the continent’s largest cities. Through my travels, I became fascinated by the ways in which historic architectural typologies can be reworked to create architecture that is both historically conscious and distinctly contemporary. In addition to increasing my understanding of architecture’s connection to its contextual culture, this project strengthened my skills in Revit and urban design. The project was well-received internationally, winning silver in the HBG International Design Competition upon my return to the United States in the fall of 2017.
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Spring 2017 Krzysztof Bojanowski Educational + Civic 50,000sf HBG International Design Competition: Silver
URBAN RESPONSE Two major criteria drove the design of the project’s urban presence: the need to continue the procession from the old city and the desire to reactivate the axis of the existing building. To make the important connection to the Old City, the zone of vegetation that is present up to CUT’s campus is continued along the southern edge of the site, creating a verdant buffer that separates vehicular traffic from pedestrians.
In order to reactivate the historical axis, the datum is used as an armature for the composition of programmed structures and landscapes. While the newly designed amphitheater and exterior classrooms to the north of CUT’s building are essential, the Fabrication Lab (Fab Lab) and gallery are the focus as they help create the Fabrication Forum that brings CUT’s presence to the street.
Pre-Existing Site Condition with CUT Outlined in Red
Parti of New Site Design
Comprehensive Site Plan with Fabrication Lab Highlighted in Blue
FINDING THE FORUM
View Toward Fab Lab from Compositional Axis
Section through Fab Lab | View Across Forum to Gallery
STRUCTURAL CONUNDRUMS Inspired by the load-bearing masonry palette of Cracow, the Fab Lab pushes the boundaries of the masonry arch to create structural conundrums that challenge students and visitors alike. On the exterior, a new structural typology of the cantilevered arch is implemented to make a clear connection to the Forum and gallery while providing shelter for outdoor construction projects (as seen on previous page). The counteracting “keystone” force that supports this cantilevered arch is provided by the roof. Elsewhere, sweeping arches provide high levels of transparency, allowing the public to visually engage with the process of fabrication and design. Upon entering the structure, visitors are met with levity and light as provided by the tensile steel secondary structure. This structure along with the spatial organization of the mezzanine allow for a flexible floor plan that can accommodate a broad range of projects. Essentially, by extending the procession from the Old City, reactivating the historic axis, and challenging the expectations of masonry construction, the project re-brands CUT’s School of Architecture as a community-oriented institution of design in the heart of Cracow.
THE AILERON An Epicenter for Future Urban Trajectories
Situated on the northern fringe of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, the Aileron is the circulatory gateway of a future city. This project is the result of a semesterâ€“long investigation into parametric design and the relationship between kinetic energy and architectural form, culminating in a structure that intimately engages with its context by receiving multiple scales of circulation. Located beneath the soaring viaducts of Hall of Fame Drive and James White Parkway, the existing parking lot below feels cavernous and programmatically stagnant. In my design, the multipurpose event space of the Aileron becomes an armature for kinetic activity, filling this existing void and ascending through the gap between the highways to engage with the cross-town commuter, the regional maglev train system, and passenger planes bound for McGhee Tyson Airport. The project consists of programmed layers connected by reticulating structural members and interwoven spaces. From executive businesspersons to professional thrill-seekers, the project hosts a variety of patrons and functions as a vertical melting pot and new threshold to Knoxville.
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Spring 2016 Keith Kaseman, KBAS Architects Transit Hub | Gateway 150,000sf Selected for Review with Morphosisâ€™ Thom Mayne
REGIONAL VECTORS Viewed from above, the way that the project reacts to contextual stimuli of various scales can be understood. At the scale of the region, the project functions as a beacon to travelers, guiding them into the city by tapping into various transportation infrastructures. The form of the Aileron is molded by contextual considerations such as urban sightlines, wind loads, and the speed of interstate traffic. From the distant Appalachian mountains to iconic local structures like the First Tennessee Tower and the Sunsphere (highlighted in blue), the placement of various apertures and corridors within the project are determined by this subregional viewshed. The faceted exterior of the structure serves to disperse and collect straight-line winds for power generation while also providing a greater surface area for the projection of realtime data. Occupant loads, upcoming events, and transportation delays are indicated by LED lights inset within the aluminum panels that compose the structure, enhancing the Aileronâ€™s function as a regional beacon.
Exploded View of Aileronâ€™s Internal Components
View of Layered Structure with LED-Backed Aluminum Panel
ARMATURE FOR ACTIVITY Just as the faceted exterior functions as an armature for data and vehicular travel, the interior of the Aileron hosts a variety of activities within its numerous layers. These layers, or “foils”, are each loaded with a distinct program or performative task.
The Airfoil represents the outermost layer of the structure, where perforated aluminum panels interact with wind, rain, and other climatic elements to augment the experience of the Aileron’s occupants. Immediately behind the Airfoil is the Datafoil, which renders real time data visually through LEDs on the back of the Airfoil’s aluminum panels.
The Terrafoil functions as both the underlying structure for the facade as well as an apparatus on which the region’s most intrepid climbers can make their ascent to the summit of the Aileron. Nestled between these layers is the Chasm, the cavernous vertical space in which various means of circulation are interwoven. Each of these pathways is programmed to the specific needs of various travelers. From downhill skateboarders that race to the base of the structure to the commuting pedestrian to the skilled climber, the Chasm embraces a variety of speeds. In addition to these highly kinetic spaces, enclosed meeting spaces are dispersed throughout the structure. Designed for community gatherings or corporate meetings, these spaces are tuned to the views that define the region. Whether it is the white-collar worker or the urban thrill-seeker, the Aileron is an armature for activity and a critique of the typology of the gateway.
SM CHA IL
Various Trajectories and Speeds of Movement Merge within the Aileron
View from the Summit of the Aileron During the Knoxville Air Show
PARAMETRIC MODULARITY Exploring Additive Manufacturing with Local Motors
Designed for Local Motors, an innovative additive manufacturing and automotive company, this interior partition wall adds color and porosity to the Local Motors Microfactory in Knoxville. Equipped with a Big Area Additive Manufacturing 3D printer (BAAM, pictured at right) and a series of constraints, Local Motors approached our Governor’s Chair Studio to design a porous partition wall for their Microfactory’s office space. The studio was broken into three teams and given three weeks to design the partition. Local Motors’ management offered helpful critique throughout the process with the end-goal of selecting one project for full-scale implementation. After numerous iterations and meetings with Local Motors, our proposal was selected by the executive staff. In addition to learning more about Rhino, Grasshopper, T-Splines and other plugins that facilitate parametric design, our team addressed the difficulty of turning a rendering into a built reality. We have since visited the Microfactory to see the screen printed and ensure its successful construction within the office space. The screen is still in use today and enjoyed by the employees.
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Fall 2016 James Rose Installation | Partition Wall Project Selected for Realization by Local Motors Tori Placher, Kyle Prichard, Mustapha Williams
A NEW TYPE OF WALL In order to celebrate the company’s unique skill set, we designed with geometries that could only be produced through additive manufacturing. Inspired by the organic modules of trabecula (the fibers that give bones their rigidity), we designed a small module that maintained its form and structural capacity regardless of the scale at which it was 3D printed. After weeks of prototyping, the form of the “torqued jack” was selected for its aesthetic appeal and structural capability. This idea of modularity was implemented at various scales within the design, creating a new type of “wall” that can be broken down into its constituent parts to create a variety of furniture options (see next page). Just as Local Motors challenges preconceived notions of the vehicular manufacturing process, our proposal challenges the typology of the partition wall while pushing the limits of 3D printing.
Progression of Geometries to Final Proposal
Screen Wall as Viewed from Microfactory Exhibition Space
Assembly Detail Showcasing Modularity of Design
Potential Applications of Wallâ€™s Modularity
Modules of Screen Wall Being Printed at Microfactory
Built Installation Provides Permeable Screen for Office
THE INTERCHANGE A New Headquarters for the Tennessee Valley Authority
As the new corporate headquarters for the internationally recognized Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), this project seeks to reinsert TVA as essential to the identity of Appalachia and downtown Knoxville. By re-branding TVA as a company that hosts collaboration and facilitates recreation within the community, the Interchange acts as an urban fulcrum that connects disparate sectors of the city. In order to serve the community, much of the site is donated to public programs such as a TVA museum, research laboratories, retail properties, and open green space. This liberated ground plane pushes the more private programs of TVA into the “levitating bar” and accompanying tower that provides the highest views in Knoxville and redefines the skyline. The resulting project facilitates the intellectual and recreational interchange between the public and TVA, something that the corporation requested throughout the design process. In addition to the form of the building and the organization of program, the ways that the building’s systems perform also further TVA’s identity within the region and city. As a product of the integrations design sequence and in response to TVA’s environmentally responsive legacy, a large component of this project is LEED Certification. The Interchange achieves LEED Platinum, challenging the stigma against large corporate headquarters. These technical considerations directly correlate to re-branding TVA and bringing them into the 21st century. The project enjoyed recognition from TVA, the Brewer Ingram Fuller Architects, and AIA Middle Tennessee.
YEAR PROFESSOR BUILDING TYPE SQUARE FOOTAGE
Fall 2016 James Rose Corporate | Mixed Use 300,000sf
AIA Middle TN Student Design Award: Bronze
Tori Placher, Kyle Prichard, Mustapha Williams
FORM FINDING Regarding the form of TVA’s Interchange, existing urban pathways and programs surrounding the site suggested a programmatic organization that serviced the community while also providing usable green space in the heart of downtown. This is achieved by situating TVA’s private program within the levitating bar and tower, which frees the ground plane for the “urban plinth” that caters to the community. With retail spaces and the TVA museum fronting Gay Street, the civic and commercial procession of Knoxville’s most famous corridor is preserved and heightened. On Cumberland Avenue, the arterial connection to the University of Tennessee, research laboratories enjoy a generous setback from the street edge, which creates a scholar’s garden and transition zone. These labs become the programmatic handshake between TVA and the University of Tennessee, inciting collaboration and situating TVA within Knoxville’s potent academic culture.
TVA Museum Retail Cores Potential Public Space
Existing Site Condition
Community Program of the Plinth Eroded by Urban Trajectories
THE INTERCHANGE Atop this community-oriented plinth sits over 100,000 square feet of office space interspersed with support programs that create a healthy work environment. In the levitating bar that follows the form of the plinth below, collaborative spaces are enveloped by open workstations, creating a non-hierarchical scheme for TVA’s new corporate structure. Drawing inspiration from the geological strata evident in the cliffs that flank the nearby Tennessee River, the tower’s various programmatic “strata” are largely dedicated to social and collaborative spaces that are available to all employees. Essentially, the tower functions as the “Collaborative Core” that binds together the various components of TVA’s new headquarters. The strata feature large atria that allow TVA employees to commingle regardless of their department. These atria are articulated to the regional viewshed, offering iconic views of the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee River, and the Appalachian Mountains. Workstations
Levitating Bar Hosts Majority of TVA’s Private Program
Tower as Collaborative Core of Composition
REGIONAL PRECEDENT Just as crucial as the project’s programmatic organization is the way in which TVA’s Interchange addresses issues of cultural and environmental sustainability within the site. Similar to the cardo and decumanus in ancient Rome, perpendicular pedestrian avenues organize the site and invite non–motorized vehicles, contributing to Knoxville’s urban fabric. This is facilitated by the onsite bike storage that encourages employees and visitors to make use of this sustainable means of transit. The site is also tuned to Knoxville Area Transit routes, gaining all points needed for Quality Transit through LEED. By offering community programs that facilitate recreation, TVA’s Interchange gracefully lands on Knoxville’s city floor.
      
Retail Food Truck Parking Amphitheater TVA Museum Restaurant Research Wing Water Collection Channel
TVA’s identity as a hydrological mediator is imbued within the site via the discretely subtracted channel that runs through the property. TVA dam locations are accurately inscribed alongside this abstraction of the Tennessee River, facilitating the visitor’s understanding of the Tennessee Valley Region. This along with a color–coded system of drains within the building deliver water runoff to a 50,000 gallon cistern that stores the water for use in high-efficiency irrigation and fixtures throughout the building.
TN River + Tributaries TVA Dams
Tennessee Valley Region that Influences the Site Response
Urban Response | Eroded Forms
Arrival and Ascending Spaces
Collaborative Space for TVAâ€™s New Workflow
CREATING COLLABORATION The levitating bar furthers the motif of eroded strata by removing floor plates, walls, and other barriers to facilitate workplace interaction and collaboration. This positions workers in close dialogue with each other and managerial staff. Just like the limestone cores on the ground plane, the linear core that houses many of the managerial offices and minor collaboration spaces is carved away at key points to create moments of transparency within the office floor plan. The most potent manifestation of this erosion occurs at the “Headwaters”, which forms the experiential anchor of the bar. With a triple-height space articulated toward the iconic Tennessee Theater, the Headwaters space becomes the collaborative forum of the bar, serving as a stage for guest speakers and company meetings. This key location also retains high visibility from Gay Street, making it a critical aperture through which the public can visually engage with TVA.
“Collaborative Spine” | Multipurpose Spaces for Gathering
“Recreation Pool” | Casual Space Adjacent to Atrium Facilitates Chance Encounters
“The Headwaters” | A Flexible Meeting Space with Views Down Gay Street
STRUCTURE + SPACE MAKING Observation Deck: 6’-0” Pratt trusses allow for uninhibited panoramic views of regional viewshed. Majority of columns terminate on floor below, freeing observation deck for views and an open floor plate for a variety of events. Tower: W12 (17” X 16”) steel columns with 4” pour-in-place concrete cover on each side provides in excess of 3-hour fire rating per IBC 2012 704 TYP.
Headwaters: Occupiable floor-to-roof truss eliminates need for columns at head of bar, creating a lofty space with views articulated toward Knoxville’s famed Gay Street. This structure supports the cantilever that defines program and public space below, accentuating the threshold to the site.
Underground Program: Reinforced mushroom columns further motif of geological erosion by embracing the subtractive nature of subterranean structure.
Transition from Stereotomic to Tectonic Structure 52
Main Atrium Serves as Primary Entry and Experiential Fulcrum 53
P L AT I N U M
N. GIO TY RE IORI
EcoRoofTM green roof 4” modular tray system. Ground cover reduces water runoff to be managed on site as well as the thermal load imposed by roof gain.
Acoustic fabric panels suspended from steel decking above. Panels reduce acoustic reverberation within office space to provide more tranquil workplace.
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AT M O S P H E R GY | E
L O C AT I O N | TR
Color-coded water collection system routes excess water throughout building. Water is collected in 50,000 gallon cistern for use in irrigation and grey water.
WAT E R
E ABL AIN ST TES U I S S
TateTM raised floor plenum (2’X2’ TYP.) conceals HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems. Plenum space is pressurized with conditioned air via centralized heat pumps.
LS & RIA S TE URCE MA ESO
ERCHANGE INT | ’S URE 20 T 3 EC
American Fiber Cement CompanyTM “Patina” Panels (5/16” TYP.) form exterior expression of rain screen system. Modular system of three panel heights (1’–6”, 2’–6”, and 4’–0) along with three panel lengths (4’–0”, 6’–0”, 8’–0”) reinforce motif of geological strata. 54
AYDELOTT TRAVEL SCHOLARSHIP 20,000+ Miles of Architectural Research
In the summer of 2017, I was selected as the Aydelott Travel Scholar. Receiving an award of $20,000, I studied religious architecture as it relates to pilgrimage to better understand the ways that architecture embodies sanctity and directs various forms of movement over time. With the objective of producing the most culturally diverse analysis possible over one summer, I traveled to Israel, Italy, Indonesia, and Japan to study the structures of five distinct religions. In each place, I utilized a documentary film methodology for analysis, focusing on the perceived sources of sanctity at each site. I conducted interviews with architectural professionals and scholars, as well as pilgrims and monks. While abroad, I studied such structures as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem; Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church by Renzo Piano in Italy; Borobudur and the Prambanan Temple Compound in Indonesia; and the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan. I was also able to witness the seminal works of Tadao Ando and other noteworthy architects. Upon my return, I continued to research these structures over the course of the fall, culminating in a 40-page article that is currently being reviewed for publication via the Aydelott Foundation. The following pages detail some of my findings at these four hallowed structures. Having never left the United States prior to 2017, this experience was extremely meaningful and impactful to both my personal and professional growth. It changed the way that I perceive the world and architectureâ€™s role in it.
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Juneâ€“December 2017 Avigail Sachs
CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE | Jerusalem, Israel Located in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (4th century CE) contains sacred moments that are sustained by pilgrims’ spatially augmented understanding of their physical, historical, and spiritual contexts. These sacred experiences are created by the shifting of spatial scales and processional speeds, the juxtaposition of light and dark, and the articulation of pilgrims’ awareness of time. The architectural result of these conditions is one of the most spatially complex structures that I have ever experienced. From the collaging of various architectural styles to centuries-old Medieval graffiti, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is an armature for sacred experiences. In addition to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I visited other important sites such as the Western Wall, the Temple Mount (al-Haram alSharif), and the ruins of Qumran. Visiting these structures helped to contextualize the fourthcentury church, facilitating my analysis.
Pervasive Darkness Serves as a Backdrop for Moments of Illumination
AYDELOTT TRAVEL SCHOLARSHIP
Celebration of Tactility and Light
PADRE PIO PILGRIMAGE CHURCH | San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy Renzo Piano’s solution for a pilgrimage church on the rural plateau of San Giovanni Rotondo offers an antithesis to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. While the Church of the Holy Sepulchre creates sacred experiences through darkness and moments of pause, Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church thrives on perpetual motion, large amounts of light, and allusions to nature. Piano’s creation of an artificial plateau within the geological plateau of Mt. Gargano allows the visitor to inhabit spaces of varying experiential scales simultaneously. This comparison of experiential scales jars visitors from their current state of awareness. Experiential dislodgement was a recurring theme in all of the sites that were analyzed, suggesting that it is a key component in generating sacred experiences. In addition to shifting experiential scales, Piano uses the natural landscape as a source of sanctity. From allowing water runoff to flow directly into the building’s interior to inserting large amounts of hardscape, Piano generates sacred experiences by contrasting his artificial landscape with the verdant Italian countryside.
View toward Church as Seen from Mount Gargano
AYDELOTT TRAVEL SCHOLARSHIP
Pianoâ€™s Use of Light to Create Illusion of Levitation
BOROBUDUR | Java, Indonesia
Nestled within a verdant valley of Central Java, Indonesia, Borobudur (8th century CE) evokes sanctity through allusion and narrative. The monument is composed of stacked terraces that diminish in breadth as visitors ascend the structure, invoking the form of the agricultural terraces that populate the Indonesian countryside. More than a means of ascension, these terraces harbor a large portion of Borobudur’s sanctity – the ambulatory galleries that tell the story of the original Buddha’s path to nirvana, or the cessation of suffering. In addition to this narrative and the mountain-like form of Borobudur, the monument sustains sacred experiences by focusing views toward Mount Merapi, one of Indonesia’s most sacred landforms. This notion was confirmed in my interviews with a Buddhist monk at Borobudur and an architectural educator at Gadjah Mada University. 64
AYDELOTT TRAVEL SCHOLARSHIP
Circumambulatory Narratives Merge with Views of Mount Merapi
ITSUKUSHIMA SHRINE | Hiroshima, Japan
Sited on the hallowed island of Miyajima within the Seto Inland Sea, the Itsukushima Shrine (12th century CE) is the epitome of sanctity through solidarity with nature. The shrine is one of the foremost sacred structures of Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the shrine is its physical connection to the island, as it sits atop pilotis that interact with the changing tides. This relationship to the natural rhythms of the Seto Sea makes the experience of the shrine seem unfathomably massive, setting it apart from other structures in my analysis. The shrine’s symbiotic relationship with the sea is heightened by the water’s function as a cleansing medium in Shinto. While on the island, I had the honor to document the Kangensai Festival, the holiest ritual of the year. The 14-hour ritual consists of a maritime ballet whereby various vessels are navigated to the shrine through the Great Torii (gateway), culminating in the transportation of the shrine’s holiest object to other shrines around the bay. This experience heightened my understanding of architecture’s ability to interact with nature and served as a fitting terminus to my travels. 66
AYDELOTT TRAVEL SCHOLARSHIP
Interactions Between Kangensai Festival Patrons and Great Torii
Prayer Mat at Temple Mount | Jerusalem, Israel
Chords Bridge by Santiago Calatrava | Jerusalem, Israel
Meoto Iwa | Ise, Japan
AYDELOTT TRAVEL SCHOLARSHIP
Latticework of Istiqlal Mosque | Jakarta, Indonesia
Sayamaike Museum by Tadao Ando | Osaka, Japan
A collection of works from my five years at the University of Tennessee College of Architecture + Design