David Benz – Graduation project 1516
The Domestic Vortex
Two summers ago I visited the Venice Architecture Biennale. During a walk at the waterfront of Venice I noticed a rectangular island just before the island Murano. I discovered it was the Venetian city cemetery Isola di San Michele. The defensive walls that trace the island’s contours function as an optical and an auditory barrier, thus creating restful isolation. In this vacuum of time I was presented with the opportunity to contemplate the landscape of tombstones and semantic artefacts, while enjoying the sounds and scents of cultivated nature. The experience of visiting the island attracted me in an equivocal way; on the one hand I was impressed by the beauty of the fortified island, on the other I had a very ominous feeling because it caused a strong emotional reaction. This emotional experience was the start of my fascination for spatial atmosphere and through examining this subject more intensely, naturally I became familiar with the oeuvre of the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.
I decided to do some field research and travelled to Therme Vals, a spa complex in Switzerland, one of the best known projects by Zumthor. During my visit I came to the conclusion that the spatial atmosphere is emphasised to the extreme. I see this extremity returning in formal idioms and materials – heavy megalith-like volumes that admit but a slender line of light and the oxidisation pattern that is left behind by the water trickling slowly from the metal pipes. The scenery of the resort amidst beautiful high mountains confronted me with clean air. As I suffer from asthma this led to a second fascination: how can spatial atmosphere be applied and used to improve the life of an asthma patient? In this way a symbiosis of two subjects emerged that I related to my graduation project: the development of an asthma friendly space by exploiting the spatial atmosphere that would minimize the unfavourable and extremize the favourable.
All images @INSIDE & David Benz