Spring 2015 | University of Texas at Austin
Longhorn Caverns, Burnet County TX
Instructor: Murray Legge

See Also: Subterranea - Cave Stair

Cave systems are a hidden, parallel experience to what occurs at the surface, two worlds separated by mere feet of earth yet rarely meeting. The threshold between above and below ground becomes the most ambiguous yet powerful moment of the site.

The building came about while looking at precedents that involve invisible landscape transitions, points where the landscape shifts from the profane to the sacred or unknown. The building provides a system of walkways surrounding the cavern openings, in an attempt to recreate the ritual and instinctual behavior found in this unique landscape typology.

There exists a rich, typological tradition of occupying these “invisible landscapes”. Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem provides gathering and ambulatory space for an inconspicuous yet significant monument marking a moment in time. Ice diving, as a more informal manifestation, exhibits the practical and instinctual rituals that form around mysterious vertical transitions.

Like Dome of the Rock, the landscape transition becomes the focus of the building. An elevated series of platforms comprise the building, creating a strong, orthogonal perimeter that mutates to the internal geometry of the site. Buildings and site furniture become elevated spaces of contemplation, both reverent and observant of the subterranean phenomena.