ARCHITECTS: Teratoma Productions
During the last century our lifestyles have changed radically. We live in large cities due to our busy lifes. The metropolis is the place where people come together to build their dreams and live without limits in frenetic rhythms. The fact that we are constantly surrounded by people doesn´t mean we share our lifes and experiences with them. The larger the city, the higher the individualism of the people. In this context of skyscrapers, subways and highways we do not shelter from wild animals or storms, but from the city itself, and from our individuality. Today’s shelter should be the negative of the most crowded regular street, being placed in the street itself. The shelter of today should not be an intermediate point between two places, but a magic and peaceful space which final purpose is to bring people together under a common experience.
This Shelter does not have an specific location. It is not the design of a site specific shelter but a strategy using something that exists everywhere around the world: the roundabouts. They are extremely interesting gaps in the metropolis, space of exception without any use that are the opposite of the landscape around. The shelter that we have designed has the ability to adapt to any roundabout by changing the dimension of the hill.
The main aspect of this shelter is the coexistence of two atmospheres, one facing the city and the other facing the people inside; our project is built in the transition between these two. What people see from the outside is just a small hill full of plants. It has the appearance of a stranger in the middle of a landscape made of concrete and glass. One can take the narrow path that takes you to the top of the hill. Once there one can find a small crater and the beginning of a spiral stairs that takes you down. The spiral stairs becomes a ramp, and the ramp itself becomes large circular steps where people seat in between plants. The atmosphere at this point is very quite and relaxing. One forgets the fast moving and noise of the city for a while.
As said before the main point in this shelter is the transition between both atmospheres (from the metropolis to the shelter) and the common experience that the visitors have inside the hill. We found a lot of similarities between our idea of shelter and the japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu) so we finally decided that the shelter should be an evolved tea house. First there is this long path surrounding the hill that takes you to the top crater. Half way you can find a viewpoint with a sink where visitors can clean their hands and faces. Inside the mountain, the light becomes very faint. At the end of the path, a hole on the ground with a little fire takes the central position. Here the tea is being prepared, using leaves of green tea plants that grow on the outside of the hill. Around this fire people is having tea in between plants, like in an indoor garden (roji) while reading, listening to music or talking between them. The tea path is the common experience they all have at the same time, looking to each other and having for a while the feeling of being part of certain community. This shelter is not only a gap in the landscape of the city, but it is also a gap in our fast daily routine.