There is something remarkable about human behavior in new spaces. Our first visit to the Mangrove site in December can be viewed as a spacial expriment : how does someone adapt to novel environments. Following two groups of students - first only my studio then the whole year - I decided to document how bodies would react and inhabit the space instinctively.
I observed two common actions : curiosity (or most interestingly the repetitive attempt of climbing onto the small wall in the river) and a want to sit or lay down.
Therefore I took a specific interest in those who sat on the wall. I believe they seeked a safe space out of the way.
A Safe Space
I cannot speak of merely a human condition in the necessity of a safe space, as my experience indicates all creatures need one. Height or warmth, or bare plains or hiding in busy landscapes. Every creature differs.
A bird perches high in the tree to observe its surroundings. A student climbs over and under trunks to rest undisturbed on the other side of water. Difficulty of access amplifies our sensation of security. A child sets up her toys in the staircase central to her house from where she can hear or see all residents of her household; it is no longer a passing space filled with being neither here nor there; it is visibility and escape routes and a place to rest.
The hearth is the symbol of home, but stairs are - for me - the safe space, a place of memories and of comfort. It is young legs stretching to take two steps a time. It is a dream when growing up in flats. It is checking parents are still there late at night. It is running up three stories at the end of a long day, finally in the warm grasp of home.
A toy house observed from the stairwell. A given reference.
Motion / Stagnation
Wishing to imitate the protected “in between”ness I sense in both stairs and in the site, I wanted to create an ascending room in the top of the protostructure, lifting off the path descending towards the riverside. Starting narrow, the room filters person per person entering, but expands gradually. There are two horizontal branches of the protostructure - the first at 60cm from the ground and the second the second 130cm - that create obstacles, one to duck under and one to step over, like on the wall on the other side of the protostructure. At the end of the stairs is a platform turning to a slope onto which a body can lean.