Monday, October 17, 2011

Pabellon en el Bosque

Pabellon en el Bosque in Valle de Bravo, Mexico by Parque Humano, 2011

Photographs are by Paul Rivera, ArchPhoto; courtesy Parque Humano.

For many architects a pavilion is a dream commission. Approaching pure sculpture, the broad typology departs from the stringent functions that define buildings like houses, schools, offices, and the rest. To be sure a pavilion has a goal, a purpose of some sort, but it is rooted in the hazy area between idea and experience rather than meeting particular functional requirements. Jorge Covarrubias and Benjamín González Henze of Parque Humano, the architects of this Pavilion in the Woods, hit upon this condition when they describe their project as "an inducement to participate in specific acts of memory, contemplation, and philosophical speculation."

Sited in an opening on a large plot of land, this small (80sm / 860sf) pavilion is aligned with the path of an existing pine tree alley. A glass wall with sliding panels greets people approaching the pavilion. Solid side walls flare out to another glass wall that can slide open to bring the outdoors into the single room. While a small extension of the floor is found at the entrance, the larger side connects to a stone terrace with an outdoor tub. This overlooks a clearing in the trees, a distant vista that situates the house within a much larger landscape.
Perception has no time spam, there is no acknowledgment of temporality, the art experience is pure. The observing subject is conscious of being part of a present, palpable, located in a specific time and reality. -Parque Humano
Reading the architects' words, the meditative sense of being present is a fusion of architecture and nature, specifically via the framing of a specific view. The architects supply a malleable space (open or closed or somewhere in-between) that opens towards a vista which encompasses one's field of vision. At least this is one reading, but certain things complicate this, such as the reflective nature of the interior surfaces and the bend in the exterior walls and roof. The former could be such so that the awareness of oneself is heightened; perception of the horizon is accompanied by reflections off the floor, walls, and ceiling. A fire in the simple circular pit in the floor would also be cast upon these surfaces, potentially drawing the inhabitant into the flames by being surrounded by them. Whatever the intention, the green color of the interior surfaces nevertheless draws it closer to the surrounding landscape.

The bends in the exterior walls and roof, on the other hand, serve to create a sculptural presence irrespective of what is happening inside. Only the roof's kink is sensed in the pavilion, as the ceiling rises and falls. This results in a framed view that is lower than if the roof and ceiling continued on the upward trajectory from the entrance; this view stresses the horizontality of the horizon, as well as the green and brown landscape over the blue sky. The bend in each wall confuses the flaring of the plan and provides extra space for storage and other uses. It also continues the bend of the roof to create a faceted form clad in a single material. While the pavilion's architectural functions may be limited to keeping the occupants warm and dry (and maybe clean and fed depending on what fills the voids in the side walls), the relative freedom allows the architects to focus on the simple act of being and looking. They've created a small building for just that.