Text: Bhujon Kang, Andre Bighorse

08. Aug 2013

Lighthouse for the Dutchman
Visualizing the design idea and ensuring reality does not differ from the expectations of the client

Creative architects attract creative clients. In 2012, when the design team from Urban Playground was commissioned by a Korean Presbyterian Church in Phoenix, AZ to design a small size chapel in suburban Phoenix, they leapt at the chance. The result not only reveals the creative streak in the young architects’ firm, but also demonstrates their architectural design approach and above all their understanding of daylight and importance of daylight quality and views outdoors for the most intimate and spiritual places, a chapel. The design concept links the structure to the history of the location, addresses the natural environmental conditions and has used advanced and time-tested planning tools to develop the notion of spiritual sanctuary to the ultimate. Not surprising that it was featured in this year’s Annual Exhibition at the AIA Center for Emerging Professionals.

Bhujon Kang and Andre Bighorse describe the architects’ approach and how they visualized the design idea to present the client with as real a concept as possible.

There are many ways in which daylight can transform a space both physically and emotionally. It can affect both our perception and understanding of architecture, as well as prescribing the qualitative experiences of space, such as creating a calming, contemplative atmosphere. Desert environments yield unparalleled lighting characteristics that give rise to strong contrasts, shadow definition, and mesmerizing color displays during dawn and dusk. The beautiful landscape of South Central Arizona is one such location that affords an experience unlike any other place rooted in legend and climatic extremes. With its dry, hot summers and brief rainy season during mid-summer and late winter, it displays a unique planting palette inconsistent with most deserts around the world. Towering saguaros, groves of man-sized chollas and prickly-pear cactus dot the landscape amidst a rocky terrain. The remoteness and rawness of this environment lends itself to a spiritual concept: here you can find peace and solace solitude in the wilderness in order to achieve pure contemplation and self-reflection, a kind of pilgrimage for a greater spiritual connection. […]

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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 89.
And our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store) contains a media-enhanced version.

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