In the desert northeast of Los Angeles in an abandoned city called California City the 739600m2 Second Community floats above the desert floor like a mountain avatar. In its crater the 1500 heliostatic mirrors reflect the light onto the artificial sky covering the desert of the trans-identity port. With a capacity of 40,000 people the port gathers in its featureless white space individuals open to role-play.
The Second Community explores an alternative identity tourism that goes beyond the virtual space of online role-playing games, the open desert of the Burning Man festival and the convention halls of Cosplayers. Spanning half a kilometer the artificial desert of the port isolates the person in a void of imagination where the persona of an individual becomes a fugitive and creative semiotic gadget which collectively generate a public space of radical self exploration an experimentation.
The porous mountain avatar surrounding and supporting the sky of the port collects its energy from the concentrated solar power plant in the center of the crater, harvesting the power of the sun and delivers it to the caves around the centered port where the identity tourists prepare for the events in the port.
Totally! And I was like, this thing is full on ugly. Like a bridge on acid with all that metal and stuff. And oh my God, its freaking huge and it was so strange, cuz there were like no walls or doors and everything was like totally white. There were like thousands of people totally doing weird cool stuff. You should totally come, its freakin gnarly!
Fredrik Hellberg. 05.06.2011
THE SECOND COMMUNITY
IDENTITY TOURISM. CALIFORNIA CITY
ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE
DIPLOMA UNIT 5. (Re)public: Third Natures, Carnal & Mundane Assemblies
Tutors: Efren Garcia Grinda + Cristina Diaz Moreno. Tyen Masten
2010 - 2011
During the last two years the students have been exploring within Unit 5 the possibility of reformulating what public space is nowadays by means of projecting Third Natures. This term was originally coined in the sixteenth century to refer to a new reality halfway between existing categories. The new gardens established new culturally constructed relationships with nature, technology and history to define spaces with a radically new materiality. For us the concept of third nature is synonymous with the redefinition of space as the phenomenon of intermediation between different materials with different origins. And so the entity formerly known as buildings can now be understood as an assembly of complex ecologies that acts as a linking mechanism between living beings, social groups and technological objects.
In his project Fredrik has explored the possibility of constructing a public space for one of the most distinctive social manifestations of our era: the personal and collective clashes and anxieties that happen in this wild untamed territory of the experience between the real world and the realm of zeros and ones in which we spent part of our lives. The interconnections between both domains and the role of the construction of the personal and collective identity through the definition of the appearance is the departure gate for the project, based in a exploratory survey through some of the subcultures strongly connected with these aspects, like the role players or the massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers.
This new touristic destination for identity raisers is an avatar of a building, composed by a gigantic fake mountain made out of consecutive iterations of tetrahedral steel mesh where the structural stresses are concentrated. This immense virtual realm shaped following the basic principles of the spaces of computer games, hides in its interior a white luminous and seamless desert. Vast enough to be perceived as a mirage in the Mohave Desert, this virtual stage constructed artificially modifying natural conditions and phenomena is seated following directly the blueprint of California City, thought for 4 million and never inhabit. The interior is a broad white space, with no perceptible limits in which a blinding and homogeneous luminosity is floating; a white canvas for identity expressionism in where different subcultures and social groups can rebuild the notion of gathering halfway between Burning Man festival –with its extreme and radical festivity and extravagances- and computer gamers meetings.
Working simultaneously with the perceptive implications of high luminosity levels and energy production, a ring of circular heliostats placed in the inward face of the crater reflects the sunlight towards the interior of the four hundred meters dome and the steam turbine to both generate energy and produce a light mirage.
Basing the logic in the study of identity based subcultures, Fredrik resituates people in the center of the spatial practices, its activities and cultural manifestations. In Fredrik’s project this process of gathering and assembling post-subcultural materials and artificially modifying natural ecosystems into third natures is to dream of the collective, to imagine the public realm in a subversive manner in the pursuit of extreme and radical forms of beauty.