Templo de Reflejo
Templo de Reflejo
With Templo de Reflejo, I want to spatially represent land, the sacred, and the cultural ancestry of the Ilaló Mountain. My work is a public art proposal for the Ilaló Mountain called Templo de Reflejo. It is a space to contemplate land, connect with the sacred, and ancestral culture. The space connects the viewer with nature and incites feelings of belonging and care..
Templo de Reflejo is a representation of the Ilaló. The curvature of the outer architecture replicates the mountains. When you enter the space you are entering Ilaló. The floor is made up of a rainwater water-mirror and a pathway that replicates the form of a Chakana. The lamps that fall from the ceiling represent the chakana, the condor, the colibrí and the preñadilla. The lights reflect on the water mirror creating an outer space atmosphere. They are intended to lead the viewer to the sublime and the uncanny.
The Chakana is a millenary symbol form the native Andean cultures. The word Chakana is a quechua work that can be interpreted as "bridge towards the upper". The symbol shows the union between the lower world and upper world, the Earthly and the spiritual, the masculine and the feminine, the sun and the moon, time and space. The circular centre represents the inner duality of the universe, the unknown, the truth, the sacred.
I used Cynthia Chamber’s conceptions of place written in her essay The Land is the Best Teacher I’ve Ever Had to respond to my initial question on why we need to connect with place. She discusses “the curriculum of place” and how land can teach the viewer about caring and reflection. Chambers discusses how by visiting these sites, as a form of pedagogy, people can learn from the land and its past (Chambers. 2006. 36). This learning incites a new connection with place that heals the historical broken relationship of subject-place. Templo de Reflejo concentrates in inciting a connection between subject and place in which the subject reflects about the past, cares, feeds the land, and feels belonging. Such connection is able to create environmental responsibility and ancestral acknowledgement which provokes cultural healing.
Phenomenology of space- The Process of Creation
For the production of the space, I researched different approaches to the phenomenology of space. Phenomenology of space studies space through the direct experience of the inhabitant (Borch. 2014. 91). This philosophical area helped me understand where to start in regard to sparking emotions of connection with land in the viewer. Spatial theorists like Gernot Böhme, Juhanni Palaasma, and Olafur Eliasson have specific approaches on how to create a space using phenomenology and I used their notions to guide my production.
According to Böhme, to produce an atmosphere one must first define it through other concepts, for it is created through “aesthetic constellations” (Böhme. 2014. 48). Templo de Reflejo is defined by manifestations of the co-presence of subject, place and object. In my thesis, the atmosphere of the space is defined by place (the Ilaló mountain), ancestral history (Tola Chica Culture), and sacred symbolism (the chakana, the the condor, the colibrí, and the preñadilla). These concepts were transposed formally into the space. Place was transferred into the form of the public artwork, the figure is an imitation of the Ilaló Mountain. The Tola Chica culture and the sacred symbolism were incorporated through the Chakana pathway that makes up the floor and the chakana and animal lamps that bring light to the space. The junction between sociology and space helps understand human nature and behavior spatially, within relation to place. My conversation with the comuna Tola Chica helped me understand these concepts and thus define the overall atmosphere of the space. (Adruango, et al. 2021).
Once I understood the “aesthetic constellations” that defined the atmosphere of Templo de Reflejo, I proceeded to define my intention. Olafur Eliasson talks about urban atmosphere and puts attention into intentionality: “intentions by city planners, governments, everyday users- inevitably embody an ethical stance, a suggestion about how to interact with others” (Borch. 2014. 21). There needs to be a focus on urban atmospheres to incite a better relationship with place. Atmosphere is able to simulate activities and guide the imagination of the inhabitants. Place, space and atmosphere make us mimic their intentionality creating an iteration of the same ambiance in our physical bodies. My intention when creating Templo de Reflejo is to connect the subject land, the sacred, and the cultural ancestry, and this intention is transferred in my choice of materials, my creative process, and production. The materials and technology that I proposed in Templo de Reflejo are directly linked to the land. Adobe and rainwater are the main components. Adobe is a mixture of soil from the same location mixed with water and other additives that make it stronger. The rainwater will be gathered through a recollection process and will use it to compose the water mirror of the temple. Since the space is aiding in the connection to land, I found it very important to make it sustainable. To make the project sustainable, I collaborated with a civil engineer to make the space powered by solar panels. He created a preliminary line diagram to represent the sustainable energy system. Neri Oxman’s views on material ecology can dialogue with Eliasson’s notions of intentionality and this conversation was transposed in the project through the use of materials (Oxman. 2010. 27-52). My creative process incorporated the collaboration with the Tola Chica community and an honest discussion of land acknowledgement. The coproduction of my thesis reflects my intentionality in every creative decision for Templo de Reflejo.
Once I stablished my intentionality, I could begin to create the space formally through the lens of the viewer. As Juhani Palasma suggests, I concentrated in the seven sensory qualities of the space created: vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell, muscle and skeleton. The visitors of Templo de Reflejo, will visually enter the gigantic Ilaló mountain, and will hear silence, for the “most essential auditory experience created by architecture is tranquility” (Pallasma. 2007. 25). The subjects will taste and smell the rainwater that makes up the water mirror of the temple and the freshness of the adobe material. Their muscles and skeletons will be guided to transport through the temple by the Chakana pathways. Focusing on the seven sensory qualities helped me produce the space from the perspective of the direct experience of the subject in the space. Through each sense, I intent for the viewer to connect with place.
The proposed materials are all sustainable. The material of the outer architecture is adobe, which takes local soil and has an earthly, orange tone that contributes to feelings of spirituality and calmness.
The water mirror would be composed of rainwater that is recollected in the outer structure and recycled.
Single Line Diagram
The following line diagram represents the electrical footprint for Templo de Reflejo. The space is powered by solar panels making the electricity of the space sustainable.
* Line diagram made by Engr.Jose Ignacio Fernandez-Salvador
Urban environments are in need of spaces where to connect with land and our culture. As a modern society we are disconnected from where we are and what came before us. We are in need of spaces that concentrate in the connection of subject-place to instigate environmental care and ancestral awareness. Templo de Reflejo is a suggestion of a new aesthetic able to make the viewer connect with place and thus provide cultural healing. For in the reflection of where we are and what came before us, we heal.
1. Adruango, Luis. Morales, Estela. Moyón, Margarita. Pallo, Glori. Simbaña, Gerardo. Personal interview. 5 February 2021- 10 March 2021
Through my telephonic interviews with Luis Adruango, Estela Morales, Margarita Moyon, Glori Pallo, and Gerardo Simbaña, I learned a lot from the comuna Tola Chica and their spiritual practices. Before explaining the project, I ask the interviewees what practices they already had to connect with place. They informed me that the comuna is Catholic and that their way of connecting with nature and land is through Catholic rituals. During the religious holidays, the community has different types of events that thank for the land and their ancestors. They were pleased to hear about Templo de Reflejo and told me that it would be a great place to house their rituals. I asked about sacred symbols that are often seen and used in the community, and they told me about the chakana, the Virgin Mary and the Catholic cross. The chakana is used often in Catholic rituals as well. They also mentioned that plants and animals are also considered sacred to their people: the ayahuasca, the palo santo, the San Pedro, the rose, the condor, the colibrí, the puma, and the preñadilla. Some of the mentioned animals will become part of the space as lamps.
2. Ballal, Amritha and Sinha, Suditya. “Redefining Spritiual Spaces” Architecture and Design, 2017. 34-44
The article talks about the Temple in Stone and Light in Rajasthan. The authors discourse about how the space is an interpretation to a traditional temple. The spiritual space is a representation of local culture, workmanship and heritage through the use of materials and formal elements. The balance of opacity and transparency creates a sublime experience.
3. Böhme, Gernot. “Urban Atmospheres; Charting New Directions for Architecture and Urban Planning” Cambridge University Library, 2014.43-59
Böhme explains that the term atmosphere was conceived in architecture phenomenology by philosopher Hermann Schmitz, for he relates it to a theory of perception. Schmitz drew on Ruldolph Otto’s notions of the numinous and concentrated on feelings that “overcome you” (91). In Roman mythology, there is the term ‘genius loci’, which translates to “the spirit of place”, which protects the space and creates a numinous atmosphere (20). Mass psychology and the collective unconscious also speak of atmosphere in terms of a common mood or “emotion in the air”, which enraptures individuals in the crowd and integrates them into the collective”. According to Böhme, to define the term atmosphere one must relate it to other concepts, for it is created through “aesthetic constellations”. Environmental atmospheres also play a role in architectural ones. Interpersonal, cultural, social, family, and workspace atmospheres create an interrelationship that functions in the overall “aesthetic constellation”. The junction between sociology and architecture helps understand human nature and behavior spatially and with relation to place
4. Borch, Christian. “Atmospheres, Art and Architecture: A conversation between Gernit Böhme, Christian Borch, Olafur Eliasson, and Juhani Pallasma” Cambridge University Library, 2014. 91-107
Gernot Böhme, in his conversation with Cristian Borch, Juhani Palasmaa and Olafur Eliasson about Atmospheres, Art and Architecture, talks about how the notion of and interest in atmospheres came as a reaction to modernity. Because the orientation was much more towards geometry, technology, and the industrial production of buildings, the “mood” or emotional aspect of a work of architecture was left secondary (Borch. 2014. 91).
5. Chambers, Cynthia. “The Land is the Best Teacher I Have Ever Had: Places as Pedagogy for Precarious Times” Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Fall 2006. 27-38
Cynthia Chambers talks about the power of didactics of place. She discusses indigenous beliefs in regard to place: “Like relatives, places must be fed and cared for. Like family and old friends, places are visited and in return they care for us, they may gift us with dreams and answers to our prayers. Stay awhile; sit down; tell stories; eat and drink and offer something to those who came before, those who shaped this landscape and who we shaped by it; those who made precious and precarious life possible” (Chambers, 2006. 34). Chambers also talks about the importance of visiting a place constantly, for visiting is a “form of renewal, a way of recreating people, places, and beings, and their relationship with one another.” (p.34)
There is a possibility and responsibility in architecture of communicating the significance of place, which can be achieved through spatiality. Urban spaces should concentrate in inciting a connection between subject and place in which the subject cares, feeds the land, and feels belonging. Such connection is able to create environmental responsibility and ancestral acknowledgement which provokes cultural healing. “It is our hope that in visiting these sites, as a form of pedagogy, we-students/teachers/elders (…) will be brought into the proximity of suffering and trauma – human and ecological – that may no longer be visible or audible for the uninitiated” (Chambers. 2006. 36) Younger generations should always stay connected and remember survivors of historical traumas, for such recognition will change subsequent generations to discover new connections that heal. Urban space should aid in this objective with a focus on the curriculum of place.
6. Edmonds, David. “Big Ideas in Social Science: An Interview with Doreen Massey on Space” Pacific Standard, 2017. Retrieved from
Massey discusses her “anger” towards “the social sciences and philosophers”, for they pay “so much attention to time, so that space became a residual dimension: it’s always ‘TIME’, and ‘space’.Time is the dimension of change, of dynamism, of the life we live, and all the rest of it. Space became the dimension that wasn’t all of that. A lot of us, implicitly, think of space as a kind of flat surface out there — we “cross space.” And space is therefore devoid of temporality: it is without time, it is without dynamism, it is a flat, inert given…Instead of space being a flat surface, it’s more like a pincushion of a million stories. If you stop at any point (…) there will be a story” (Massey. 2017). Space, as Massey suggests, has a multiplicity of narratives.
7. Eliasson, Olafur. “Models are Real” 2007. 18-19
Spaces are linked to time and to user engagement. The idea that objects and space is ephemeral and continuously changing, creates a liberating potential to make renegotiations of our surroundings. The idea of spatial multiplicity and co-production of space opens room for change and improvement.
8. Eliasson, Olafur. “Why art has the power to change the world” World Economic Forum, 2016.
Part of a global community, a larger we. Art can make the world felt and this may spur thinking, engagement and action. The artists’ responsibility “is to help people not only get to know and understand something with their minds but also to feel it emotionally and physically. By doing this, art can mitigate the numbing effect created by the glut of information we are faced with today, and motivate people to turn thinking into doing.”.
9. Hook, Derek. “Monumental Space and the Uncanny”. Geoforum, 2005. 688-704
Derek Hook asks about the relation between subjectivity of the individual and the ideological force of a monumental site. “How might we conceptualize this relation, particularly if it is necessarily subtended by two important factors, that of an apparent repetition of identity (or ideological persona), and that of an ambiguous form of embodiment?” (Hook. 2005. 693). This is not only present in monumental space, but in any space. One has to consider the repetition of identity with the subject and the space, and also consider the ambiguous form of embodiment of the ideologies of such space.
10. Massey, Doreen. “For Space” Sage Publications, 2005. 3-30
Massey discusses three propositions to change our perception of space. The first is to “recognize space as the product of interrelations; as constituted through interactions, from the immensity of the global to the intimately tiny” (Massey. 2005. 9). This proposition incites considerations of global ideas of space.
The second proposition suggested by Massey in her text is to “understand space as the sphere of the possibility of the existence of multiplicity in the sense of contemporaneous plurality: as the sphere in which trajectories coexist; as the sphere therefore of coexisting heterogeneity” (Massey. 2005. 9).
The multiplicity lies on the relationship of the subject with the object place and other inhibitors with their own stories of the space, creating that heterogeneity.
Massey’s third proposition is to “recognize space as always under construction. Precisely because space on this reading is a product of relations-between, relations which are necessarily embedded material practices which have carried out. It is the never finished; never closed…Imagine space as a simultaneity of stories-so-far.” (Massey. 2005. 9). An unfinished space has the ability to constantly change, and improve.
11. Nesbitt, Kate. “The Sublime and Modern Architecture: Unmasking (an Aesthetic of) Abstraction. University of Virginia. 1995. 177-182
Kate Nesbitt discusses the idea of the sublime. “The significance of the sublime as a subject of art and architecture lies in its conceptual reach or its spiritual dimension. The sublime refers to immense ideas like space, time, death, and the divine.” (Nesbitt. 1995. 177). The sublime is a term that attempts to conceptualize an ‘unconceptuable’ feeling. As Jean-Francois Lyotard explains the sublime in his paintings, it is “presenting the unpresentable, the indeterminate or the non-demonstrative” (177).
12. Oxman, Neri. “Material-based Design Computation” MIT, 2010. 27-51
Neri Oxman argues that form, structure and material have to be considered one when designing and fabricating. She discusses that the prioritization of form over material has created failures and environmental liabilities. She supports material aware design and strategies of design through the observation and study of nature. Oxman claims that this approach is driven by maximal performance with minimal resources through local material property. Materiality dictates form.
13. Pallasmaa, Juhani. “Space, Place and Atmosphere: Peripheral Perception in Existential Experience” Cambridge University Library, 2014. 19-41.
Palasmaa expands on phenomenology saying that “ambiance and mood were rarely discussed among architects or schools of architecture, as architectural theorizing, education, and criticism tends to focus on space, form, structure, scale, detail and light” (Pallasmaa. 2014. 19). He suggests focusing on orientation, gravity, balance, stability, motion, duration, continuity, scale and illumination. Palasmaa criticizes how atmosphere has been judged as something “romantic and shallowly entertaining” (22) because of Western notions of architecture being a geometric through object focused vision. Atmosphere separates itself from the material reality and becomes an “immaterial halo” that is different from traditional intellectual understanding. “Atmosphere is an experiential property or characteristic that is suspended between the object and the subject” (20). Juhani Palasmaa argues that “emotional reactions are often the most comprehensive and synthetic judgements that we can produce, although we are hardly able to identify the constituents of these assessments” (27). Far from traditional academic understanding of architecture, the study of atmospheres centres in the intersubjectivity between space and subject.
14. Pallasma, Juhani. “The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses” John Wiley & Sons, 2007. 15-71
Juhani Palasma, in his book The Eyes of the Skin, suggests his approach of the architecture of the seven senses: vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell, muscle and skeleton. The sense of sound is theorized as being the “man sense of cosmos” (Pallasma. 2007. 23). Pallasmaa argues that the “most essential auditory experience created by architecture is tranquility. Architecture is the art of petrified silence” (25). He claims that smell is the sense that connects the viewer with memory, for smell is the most persistent memory of space. The tactile sense is an important aspect of a work of architecture, for the hands are the “sculptor’s eyes, but also organs of thought” (26). Additionally, the tactile and visual senses can transfer into taste experiences of space. “Certain colours and delicate details evoke oral sensations. A delicately colored polished stone surface is subliminally sensed by the tongue” (28). All the senses come together to form an atmospheric experience: “qualities of space, matter and scale are measured equally by the eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue, skeleton and muscle” (32). Pallasmaa argues that a walk through a forest is invigorating and healing because of the constant multi-sensorial interaction and such interaction can be replicated in architectural form. Multisensorial interactions with place are key in creating atmospheres that incite a greater connection to place.
15. Shanes, Eric. “Constantin Brancusi” Abbeville: Modern Masters, 1989. 67
Constantin Brancusi states that “Art must give suddenly, all at once, the shock of life, the sensation of breathing” (Shanes 1989, 67).
16. Steyn, Coetzee. “A Floating Image” Architecture and Design, 2017. 70-78
Coetzee analyzes Bosies Chapel in South Africa. The form of the spaces emulates the silhouette of the surrounding mountain range. The undulation of the ceiling supports itself, the floor reflects the lighting and the view is framed. The temple is a great example of nature dictating design.