Natural Separation

blyth_final poster

The program for Ft. Ancient calls for delineation between two very different spaces. By allowing the existing context to provide that delineation, one can also allow this means of separation to generate the form of the intervention. Setting the site at the edge the natural barrier creates multiple perspectives from which to extract the difference in spaces. The first obvious and most necessary of these comes in the separation of public and private spaces. Public, in this case, being the programmed space for a museum and exhibition space and private consisting of lodging for research staff and museum staff in addition to the research facilities.  Once again, using the site to generate the separation, one can place these public and private spaces with respect to accessibility. The easily reachable space contained within the walls of the mound used for the museum grants easy access to patrons of all abilities. On the contrary, the lodging is located on the hillside of the mounds, embedded into the sloping surface only reachable down a winding path from the museum.

The form of the building takes it shape directly from the context in which it lay. Mimicking the gentle curve of the mound, the patrons walk along a path at the base, peering up to the mounds on one side and the exhibition spaces below them to the other. The ground plane is pealed up and draped over the structure of the museum, allowing full visibility from above into the versatile space. The perspective from the interior is benefitted from natural lighting nearly year round that is diffused by the trees, as well as a vegetated roof to aid in keeping a comfortable interior environment without gratuitous energy use.  The side opposite of the museum is meant to subtly show it’s presence while still allowing the roof to sink into the ground from whence it came. Upon walking atop the structure, one gets a unique perspective on the site as well as the Little Miami River below.

conceptual design_ eric blyth

blyth_conceptual design

Case Study: National Museum of the American Indian

In the early 1990’s, discussion began of designing the first American museum dedicated to the Native American Indians. Although the site of the proposed building, on the National Mall in Washington DC, was an obvious source of possible inspiration, the context that most needed to be addressed was the thick history of the Native American tribes. Early dialogue on design formulated several different concepts on which to build the design in direct relation to cultural elements. First and foremost was the idea of riding the fine line between formal and informal space while maintaining close proximity to nature. Francis Hayden states in an article from The Smithsonian, “the landscape flows into the building, and the environment is who we are. We are the trees, we are the rocks, we are the water. And that had to be part of the museum.” The exterior and interior form is derived from the thousands of years of erosion left by the wind and water on rock formations. Then in addition to physical connection, it was suggested that spiritual connections be expressed architecturally through the creation of an opening to the sky and an east-facing main entrance.

The relationship between the Museum of the American Indian and our project at Fort Ancient is uncanny; therefore there is much to be taken from this case study. With all of the rich cultural influence of the American Indian Museum on site at Fort Ancient, the concept simply must be naturally informed. As the exterior and interior form of the museum was derived by the elegant force of wind and water, so the contour of Fort Ancient should be forged by the dense piece of history upon which it will stand. Only through respect will this collision of generations be successful.


Fort Ancient Site Analysis

site analysis_finals _ Eric Blyth