Bonfire Competition.

Papa Westray, Orkney Islands, Scotland. 2012.

Monumental Fire

The proposed architecture is strongly reminiscent of the history of the place because the main material is stone as in primitive monuments found in the Orkney Islands: cairns, tombs and Knap of Howar. The underground condition of our proposal also provides important links with the monuments of Papay Westray.

Somehow, the proposed materials also refer us to the history of architecture: the wood is found in the primitive hut, the subsequent evolution of building from wood to stone and finally the brick as essential construction unit of all mankind . The piece as a whole – through its materiality – also evokes the great epochs of human history: stone representing the Neolithic, the control of fire as a fundamental moment in the evolution of culture and finally the iron representing the age of metals, where the man was able to manipulate the material to build tools.

Our proposal is to build a monument referred to the history of mankind through the rite of fire. If fire means life and death, start and end, and birth and destruction, we want to represent this paradox in a building in which active material is fire. If we go back in time to the very beginning, we can remember that life came from the sea. The first organisms were generated in the oceans and were evolving into beings that came out of the sea to colonize the land. The man himself is a product of that evolution. We therefore believe that the concept that more accurately describes our idea is a line. This line represents time and the changes associated to it. This path represents different stages of any story and of any existence: birth, growth and death. Fire is present in each one of these stages.

We propose an elongated stone platform as a breakwater that begins in the sea and enters the island to end in a bigger space also built in stone: a ritual space of fire. On the breakwater┬┤s surface – which is strictly horizontal – is placed a light primitive hut shaped structure made of steel rods, which is the element responsible for supporting the firewood to be combusted, in order to build a 100 meter long line of fire from the sea to the ritual space. This space is an empty and roofless promontory with an unfired brick prism on the center. The main idea is that the line of fire that comes from the sea, lights a big fire in the ritual space which is able to complete the cooking process of the bricks. So we can complete the fire ritual leaving a witness of the process: a space of fire, a shelter in the island, a public bonfire space.