TGP 1: Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen

Nikolaus Hirsch, Wolfgang Lorch and Markus Miessen - Competition Entry 'The Great Pyramid' (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen)
Competition-entry The Great Pyramid (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen) (click-2-enlarge)

In September 2007 ‘The Great Pyramid’ (TGP), a project by the German writer Ingo Niermann and entrepreneur Jens Thiel, invited four teams to contest in an explorative competition on the embedding of a gigantic pyramid made of stacked caskets.

In January this year Rem Koolhaas, as chairman of the jury, announced that all four contestants won: “In the end the variety and richness of the entries kept the jury from declaring a single winner – given the enormity of the enterprise, there is scope for each author to contribute and enrich the massive effort.”

At Eikongraphia I will discuss the proposals in four posts, beginning with the entry by Nikolaus Hirsch, Wolfgang Lorch and Markus Miessen.

In their design Hirsch, Lorch and Miessen have projected the pyramid in a lake that is lined with a small city dedicated to the transition between life and death. There the grievers, the dying and the dead find services of their liking. Boats take them to the actual pyramid.

“Based on the pyramid as its urban catalyst the project creates a zone between life and death, a city of passing away”, the designers write: “[that condition] could potentially turn those spaces into typologies that are no longer connected with fear and despair, but both solitude and community.”

I think it is brilliant. The isolation of the pyramid in the lake adds to its mystique. It becomes an ‘over there’, something to confront. You can walk around the lake, and thereby walk around the pyramid, without any possibility to approach it.

To thicken the experience a rule could be applied that tourists (there will be tourists!) are not allowed to cross the lake. Even future-grievers or future-dead are not allowed to go there. Only the deceased and those who have stayed behind can approach and climb the pyramid.

From an esthetic point of view the lake forms a beautiful abstract plane that enhances the form of the pyramid. Like the desert in Egypt adds drama to the ancient pyramids there.

I also think there is a great processional quality in this proposal. First you prepare yourself at viewing distance of the pyramid, then you move towards it, and finally you climb the pyramid. The clear definition of those three steps underscores each part of the experience. Furthermore I think this continues an intrinsic practice of funerals, at least as I know them: First there are speeches and prayers in a dedicated building or church, then you go to the graveyard by car or by walking, to then you there bury your loved one. That processional practice has a contemplating and social aspect to it that has worked forever.

One intriguing question arises at this design: should we connect this ‘taking the boat’ to the Greek myths of the ferryman in the underworld? Could we expect a re-emerging of the practice to place coins on the eyes of the passed, money to pay for the passage?

 

Nikolaus Hirsch, Wolfgang Lorch and Markus Miessen - Competition Entry 'The Great Pyramid' (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen)
Competition-entry The Great Pyramid (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen)

 

Nikolaus Hirsch, Wolfgang Lorch and Markus Miessen - Competition Entry 'The Great Pyramid' (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen)
Competition-entry The Great Pyramid (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen) (click-2-enlarge)

 

Nikolaus Hirsch, Wolfgang Lorch and Markus Miessen - Competition Entry 'The Great Pyramid' (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen)
Competition-entry The Great Pyramid (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen) (click-2-enlarge)

 

Nikolaus Hirsch, Wolfgang Lorch and Markus Miessen - Competition Entry 'The Great Pyramid' (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen)
Competition-entry The Great Pyramid (Copyright Hirsch, Lorch, Miessen) (click-2-enlarge)

Earlier: Pyramid, by… Germany?

Related iconography: Pyramid, by Herzog & de Meuron; Pyramid, by Foster; Pyramid, by Simpson; Pyramid, by Pei; Pyramid, by Baikdoosan; Pyramid, by Pareira; Pyramid, by Van der Hart


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