Repression – anarchy – pleasure
The overwhelming rotunda is, for us, a testimony to the pure power of space. How to grasp the paradoxical nature of this architectural monument? How to interpreted a space so rigid in its organization yet so open in its experience? The extreme spatial experience of the Rotunda is for us mix of repression, anarchy and pleasure.
As for repression, the central void and spiraling ramp reminds us of what Jeremy Bentham, inventor of the Panopticon prison, in 1785 called ” the sentiment of an invisible omniscience”. Indeed, the power of this space is always in tension with its programmatic functionality of the spiraling gallery. It is this repressive centrality that evokes the feeling of anarchy and the brutal iconoclasm. And finally pleasure: according to the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Rotunda was to be a “a temple of spirit, a monument”. We believe that in the end the void itself is the temple, a space omniscient in its exhilarated celebration of ephemeral pleasure of beauty.
Charles Bessard and Nanne de Ru