Location: West Texas
Program: Conceptual Case Study 8,722 sf
As a formal study of what a sensory experience can be and how materiality, construction methods and topographical context affect it, we aimed to create a space that was informed by these individual factors. Respect for the desert environment was key along with creating a fluid spatial program with integrated visuals of the natural landscape and a sculptural presence within the geographical landscape.
Given the location between Marfa and Fort Davis, nestled in the Chihuahuan desert with direct views of nearby Blue Mountain, we designed a structure that was directly influenced by its environment in both material and construction while formally adapting to the irregular topography. Spatially, our goal was to create a winding path through the structure that allows the user to travel fluidly while unveiling a different programmatic experience in each passing space. Collectively, these moments serve as a primer for the final, unobstructed view of the existing landscape. Appropriately, we wanted to utilize a sustainable rammed earth construction method for wall to ceiling applications, therefore height vertical and horizontal span limitations were also considered.
Tierra’s branding needed to be inherently strong; In line with the structural rammed earth walls encompassing the space. The brand is informed by the strength and striation of a built rammed earth wall. Although the logotype is stacked, the bookend motifs allow for a horizontal visual, stretching the eye outward in its application on the built structure. Recessed, carved primary signage seemed a logical application given the context and architectural approach and when used in an applied and layered method, raw metals were used to keep in tune with the sustainable direction of the project.
Tierra is a series of varied volumes, with minor views from each space to the other. At ground level the entry is encased in a 20 foot tall wall with small apertures framing the existing scenery. Inside, the lobby reveals the continuation of exterior materiality wrapped toward the interior and striating through walls and furniture. As the user progresses through the space, new programmatic elements are revealed in the interior while topological elements are revealed through glazing looking toward the exterior. A reflecting pool cuts through clearly denoting the built experience within one space and the natural experience outside. Curved walls wrap into the next space, lit up by hundreds of small apertures, allowing for a built sensory experience similar to that of a star filled Texas night sky. This space unfolds into the next , descending further below grade while visual apertures reduce in size and natural light. Finally, the user is funneled toward a curved tunnel with flanked exits leading to an exterior amphitheater with 180 degree views of the landscape, backed by an arched rammed earth wall. Individually, each space in the overall program contains a sensory experience, important both individually and within the design as a whole. Tierra is a conceptual vision of what this Texas sensory experience could be. Respectful to its environment while providing a series of visceral experiences framed by the built form and aided by the natural.