Digging Hand

2013

 

Location    Žužemberk, Slovenia

Typology   Temporary Pavillion

Status        Competition Proposal

The proposal began with an endeavor to resonate the Slovenian people’s willingness to overcome the tragic wounds of war. Understanding the significance of the place, at the center of Žužemberk, it derives a symbolic meaning for the most significant asset of the city and memorable event, the excavation of the foundation of St. Jacob’s church. With the castle and well preserved neighboring buildings, the town residents’ major concern for the pavilion is to be potentially divergent from historic considerations. The project then tries to express the meaning of place through an ingenious sculptural language with an implication of Slovenian history.

Despite its eccentric shape, the “DIGGING HAND” object considers being harmonized with both humanistic and contextual issues. This alienated sculpture on the historic site is inspirational as well as informative. Regarding the plan by the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, we suggest an integrative design which binds the excavation works of the church foundation in the future. The “HAND” then commemorates this historic celebration as a very straightforward and easily legible way; “an action of digging the ground”. The proposal aims to facilitate the accessibility to the site and to invigorate the place with lively events at the same time with its preservation. The ephemeral characteristics of this event and the “HAND”, shares the timeline of its brief existence at the site with the historic moment for the country. As this will be only a momentary event, it begins the initiation of an everlasting reinstatement for the immeasurably valuable heritage of Slovenia.

The proposal is composed of three parts; the nylon fabricated hand sculpture, raised glass platform, and the exposed foundation of the church. The nylon fabrication consists of flat nylon patches that are stitched and glued together. Supplying air into this pneumatic structure requires four air pumping facilities occupying one glass module along the platform. Above the air grille of the pump, LED fixtures illuminate the bottom of the structure’s “fingertips.” Stage lighting is hung under the hole at the top for events such as concerts and plays. Also, the hole at the top represents the location of the spire of the church. The form of the pneumatic structure symbolizes the kinetics of “excavation.” Not only is it an unbalanced form enabled by the light-weight pneumatic structure, it also functions as a canopy for such events.

The glass platform is a device which involves the foundation of the church into the people’s lives. At the same time it protects the cultural heritage site, the structure creates a visual connection of the church’s foundation to visitors and residents. Due to the uncertainty of the size and location of the foundation, the glass platform is designed to contain a wider boundary of the original foundation. Accordingly, the platform looks like its spreading out towards the site, blurring the border. The glass floor is supported by a 900x900mm raised modular floor system. The adjustable size of the legs can react to the wide range of unexpected topographies of the foundation, and can be stood on. At night time, the LED lights on the connecting nodes of the platform builds a unique field of lighting dots which make the place very special with a beautiful and elegant mood.