Sketches for a Benedictine monastery, Paris Mountain, Virginia
Whelan, John P.
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The site is the Northwest side of Paris Mountain overlooking the valley, flat fields and the winding road along the river. The monastery is thought of as a whole encompassing its various parts: the church, the monk's dormitory, the library, the winery, the bakery, the barns and the field chapel. Also in the enclosure are the elementary school with its classroom building, the administration/theatre building and the gymnasium. There is an imposition of a two-dimensional grid on the natural contour of the mountainside, thus resulting in a grid-like fabric which becomes the origin of a mathematical ordering throughout the site enclosure. The "Grid" is one of directional "force lines" which reflect and generate a relationship between the various buildings as well as their interrelationship to the site. This ordering is not one of predictable "constants" yet more one whose purpose is to be manipulated, eroded, extended and disassembled according to "aesthetic demands" which occur throughout the project. It is not one of a finite programming; however, there is a sense of rational consequences which result as part of this ordering. The "base grid" may eventually be eroded to such a level that what remains is more of a memory of this ordering than of anything clear and distinct in one's perception of it. The extension of this grid is meant to go beyond the confines of the monastic enclosure - as to give a sense of relationship between surrounding fields, roads to the monastery, landscaping and transitional spaces to that which lies within the walls. The solidity of these enclosing walls is one of historical reference to times past. An erosion of the walls also occurs so as to leave them more as skeleton-like markings or ruins, of a fortress which never was. The result being an architectural imposition with directional qualities interrelating site and structure.
- Masters Theses