About / Map + Directions / Credits

The Ziggurat

Murúa–Valenzuela Arquitectos

Benjamín Murúa + Rodrigo Valenzuela

The Ziggurat is a manner of making the passage of time present. The installation is based on the principle of a counterpoint between the natural, which is in constant transformation, and architecture, understood as a stable object that, when completed, undergoes a process of irreversible degradation.

Reflecting on this theme, we intend to design a material transformation process, rather than a temporary building, which remains static and then, disassembled. In this case, the subject is affected by the weather and climate, it evolves, it is disturbed and degraded, and this change is the essential and constitutive part of the project.

Considering the idea put forward by Robert Smithson, who reflected on construction as 'ruin in reverse'. We seek the intervention to be positioned in between an unfinished construction and a projected ruin. Furthermore, The Ziggurat can simultaneously be understood as the ongoing act of building, an experiment of 'weathering', a temple of contemplation and retreat removed from the city, or even a giant sandcastle to transgress and play. The structures uncanny ambiguity allows for multiple experiences both at a sensory and semiotic level.

Moreover, the device not only invites conceptual reading, but also provokes visitors to intervene physically, both unconsciously through everyday use, but also on a voluntary basis. To reinforce this intention a uniform field of 1:33 scale models, are offered for alteration or even destruction by visitors. Water is incorporated into the experience in the form of large spheres of ice, these are displaced in the central space in groups of three of four, notably during the weekends. These spheres can be manipulated, and as they melt they affect the sand. In short, public action will transform the initial landscape.

In terms of the constructive and expressive qualities, The Ziggurat is modeled from a duality of elements: the tectonics of the frame, in which lightweight, linear components are assembled so as to encompass a spatial matrix, and the stereotomics of the earthwork, wherein mass and volume are conjointly formed through the repetitious piling up of heavyweight elements—according to the classification of Gottfried Semper—. In this case the two principles relate to each other in opposition: the lightweight structure remains stable and the inert mass is affected.

Finally, The Ziggurat is more an experience than an object, a reflection rather than a confirmation, and a temporal process rather than a building.

Text submitted by Murúa–Valenzuela Arquitectos