Visual Art and Perfomance School campus in Egypt, near Cairo. the Wall

We make clean line between 2 environments. From emptiness a primitive is born. The primitive lies in the desert. It is a new settlement in nothingness. Monumental and sole. The wall to stop the sprawl. The desert sprawl, the urban sprawl… The border is created. There is a city inside the wall. The wall itself is an image of a city.


This simple act is a statement against the present architectural condition. Digital  virtual equivalence to reality has enlivened the architectural innovation for the last 20 years. The unseen geometry  is now achievable to everybody. The aim of  a new space has become a standard. Space, that repeats the existing qualities, though rarely bringing a new one. Everything can be made, every object is imaginable, and nothing seems to be strange or extravagant anymore#. New space becomes generic. Mere difference in a degree , but no difference in a kind1a.  No form seems to be radically distinctive.

The dark side of the digital era is hidden in the angle from where we look. We consume the images, not the space or the text. We swallow the images in enormous speed, we judge before we understand. There is too much of everything. Everything but a strong image vanishes in the haze of digital diversity. The successful architecture for the future needs to catch the attention on different level.

Walter Benjamin on the other hand described architecture as something that has an aura. its spatiality can never be truly shown on the photos, sketches or plans#. The nature of the built structure is different from the nature of the planned one . The new cultural buildings, the expensive cultural symbols are built rarely, the discussion over the projects is held in the phase when they are being planned. These delivery projects of the architecture#, have to work firstly as images. The delivery process can start after the right image is found – that has become new task of the architecture, provided by the society.

The value of an image in the digital media is described by the amount of the links that it refers to. To check the value of the representational image, we Google it. The perfection of the photorealistic renders has guided us to the era, where finished buildings are becoming less important. Some have seen the OMA’s CCTV tower, but everyone knows it. The fact of the physical realization of it often remains secondary.

The problem is highly recognized. The digital world have tendency to organize itself towards speed, transparency and indexiality#. The aim is to achieve a simple story with a simple headline, the speed of consuming the story reserves the audience. Alan Kirby describes the similar situation in literature as the pseudo-modernism#.

Inside the linearity, there is a steep cityscape, contradicting the surrounding conditions with it. the primitive is dealing with extreme climate conditions and providing habitable space in a desert. Some parts are mutating, some reacting. The cityscape is an escape and protection from the desert, the desert is an escape from a city.

Every architectural innovation has its own image in its own scale. The image of a wall can be done only once. A “primitive” way of thinking has become the only way for us to approach this project.
The image will introduce us the highest complexity in the terms of the organisation. If Architecture takes the images as anteriority to the solution, the interiority of the project must answer to the questions most relevant to the time given. So the wall is all but a primitive thought when it has to work as a piece of architecture (inhabitable).

According to the idea of bigness#,  the interiority of the project is working as the ultimate architecture – the project operates in the urban scale. The references from the megastructures serve the solution. The idea of linear city by Le Courbusier# showed the way – the Wall includes the roadway under the housing like the viaduct city did. The Continuous Monument# introduced the idea of a primitive, the clarity of the form – this is achieved on the southern side of the Wall. In New Babylon# the interior of the megastructure found a solution. In endless network of circulation, the journey of a city dweller goes through the decentralized rhizome-like labyrinthine of passages. The Wall achieves similar circulation pattern, similar organisation to the New Babylon plan is shown in the longitudinal section of the Wall. The circulation is amplified with commercial functions stacked between the logical connections – commercial programs start to advertise other programs to get maximum result as the meeting space. This input was gained from the Exodus# project, where human desires of consuming are accepted. The southern part of the wall can be seen as the fold of northern landscape. The askew plane works as the oblique architecture taught to us by Paul Virilio and Claude Parent from Architecture Principe. The Wall implements  the OMA’s Jussieu Library – dense, folded circulation space runs through the building on ramps. It is using the urban scale to be seen as the continuous Metropolitan Ground.

The Idea of a campus sometimes becomes the  image of a campus – it is often seen as spatial sprawl, not as the concentration of thoughts. We have introduced the new institutional organization and redefined the housing-units.
The climatic conditions provide multiple solutions. The location of a campus has formed it into the Wall that catches the prevailing wind from the north, and is exposed to the sun as less as possible. The Wall is divided into districts which serve as creators of the different atmospheres inside the wall. The offsets between the districts in the overall image are taking us away from site less abstract form. In between the offset area, the interior voids are controlling the natural ventilation.  In the offset zones the wind speeds up – the zones for creating energy are now there.

it hosts the multiple variation of districts, to bring the differentiation throughout the building. Varying in terms of views, atmospheres, relation to the ground. Inverted living – public functions inside the building, private facing the emptiness. The unique condition, the endless desert horizon is taken to the absolute – every room in the structure looks now towards it. The Wall deals with two extremes, north winds and south sun exposure. simultaneously it divides itself light and heavy poles. the only interaction between them happens in plaza-territories.

The two extremes are working as zones that form the housing system inside the wall. The private and closed zone of the apartments is overlooking the desert in the south, the more open living zones are situated in the northern part of the wall. In between those an open bridge connection crosses the void inside the wall. The bridge can be seen as a communication platform that is essential for creating the community in the new settlement.

That is an image we are carrying with us.

Viki Sandor,
Alvin Järving,
Sille Pihlak