New Harmony Grotto
With the expanding wave of contemporary architecture inspired and informed by biomorphic design and biomimetic processes, the re-evalution of the work of Frederick Kiesler has become immanent. Throughout the mid 20th century he became increasingly interested in the relationship of natural form and structure to architectural space and organization. The Grotto for Meditation proposed in 1963 for New Harmony, Indiana commissioned by Mrs. Jane Blaffer Owen was the culmination of his life’s work. Though the project was not realized, it embodies all of the influences of his time from surrealism to biotechnics. Through our university and the Blaffer Foundation, we are engaged in formal research and tectonic resolution of the project employing digital modeling and fabrication technologies at our College and in our city. We are basing this project on the full catalog of archival material made available to us with support from the Blaffer and Kielser Foundations. Our exploration is also based upon discussions with Mrs. Blaffer-Owen who is still very interested in realizing this profoundly interesting and enigmatic project. Our university has opened the door to the opportunity that our reinterpreted Grotto become a permanent fixture on the campus next to a landscape and pond that it is currently under construction. Our research into Kiesler has engaged his esoteric concepts of “co-realism” and “continuous tension” as well as his early use of recursive geometry and biomorphic form in design. From reverse engineering and digital fabrication via 3D scanning to generative structural articulation, we are experimenting with a structural/spatial system that closely aligns with Kiesler’s originally proposed tile patterning dilated into a minimal structure. The project is not only a tribute to Kiesler but to our common client who has endorsed this exploration.


37 photos and 12 drawings

Building Activity

  • avrana
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