Concept Development of a short film by Joshua Smith
An ungergraduate thesis project
The Southern California Institute of Architecture
Advisor: Michael Rotondi
On April 26, 1986 a routine stress test set off a chain of events that led to one of the most horrific civil nuclear accidents our world has seen. Thousands of families were instantly displaced by the melt down of reactor #4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
25 years later Pripyat, Ukraine is a desolate, post apocalyptic terrain that is still seething in radioactivity. The Zone of alienation is a 19 mile exclusion zone initially created to evacuate the population and to prevent people from entering the most contaminated areas. Yet contrary to the popularly imagined ideas of a post-nuclear-apocalyptic world.....
The Zone has become a sanctuary for bio diversity. In the face of a man made dystopia, mother nature has not only survived but flourished. This dystopic reality creates a place where the politics of the past are interfaced with the present and the utopian ideals of the former Soviet Union are exposed within the radioactive ruins. This leads to Chernobyl existing somewhere in between two realities. It has become a ritual space that exists independent of time and a breeding ground for the exploration of an architecture of time. I am interested in the idea of an architecture of time. An architecture of time is an architecture of the past's laws, the present's rules, and the future's ideas. Wolf Prix stated, ''The architecture of the future will fly.'' This is not an empty statement, it is a challenge. Since the beginning of architecture we have been tied to the ground plane. Not only physically but politically as well .There have been attempts to make architecture seem weightless through the use of pilotis and plate glass, attempts to make architecture fly via cantilever, and even attempts to completely displace the ground plane through render and miracles of technology. This thesis aims to explore the latter. It exists within a world where architecture and flight become one in the same leading to new questions about the meaning of ground plane, form, displacement, and existence.
For architecture to exist displaced form the earth it must first find a way to create its own groundplane. Its own means of orientation, sustenance, and replenishment. The bi-product of this re- orientation is the creation of a building-centric organization as well as multiple layers of disengagement from the earth. This disengagement was explored in a narrative consisting of three acts.
An architecture that looms. It disconnects itself from the groundplane using a proximity relationship. Through scale, form, and materiality it distances itself from the radioactive ruins of Chernobyl.
Is a complete disengagement once within the Sanctuarium. The DNA bank becomes a library made up of the basic building blocks of the outside world. This leads to the earth becoming nothing but a memory. A memory that is experienced only through the lenses of its contents.
The relationship between an architecture that looms and one of complete disengagement can be seen in section. It is the set up of this stark difference that allows for the existence of Act 3.
Is a re connection between ones memory and ones reality. A flittering connection between where one was and where one is. Through these lenses one can find beauty in destruction as well as beauty in disengagement. It is in this relationship that an architecture of time exists. It plays with the past's law's, the present's rules, and the future's ideas.