“The ‘conquest of space’ by military and scientific personnel is no longer, as it once was, the conquest of the human habitat but the discovery of an original continuum that has only a distant link to geographical reality.”1
Paul Virilio points out in his book Bunker Archeology that as warfare developed and shifted its interest from the ground plane to the sky – this was caused by the implementation of the airplane and its subsequent arming as a weapon – thus activating the volume of space. It is this jump from the ground to the sky and then eventually to the ultimate reaches of outer space that has transformed our notions of barriers, theycan no longer function in the same manne; adaptation to new technology, speeds, and operations has become the paramount concern of mankind. The explosion of the z axis coupled with the new unlimited nature of space as perceived by the horizon and activated by flight have changed our perceptions and shifted our understandings forever.
This lead me to seek sites where there was and is an interplay between the dominant horizon and the activation of three-dimensional space. The location of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, seemed appropriate on many levels, foremost of which was the obvious. It was the location of the Wright Brothers historical first flight in which they forever changed the directions of human history, it was the ultimate moment of vertical spatial activation. It also poses certain interesting possibilities to be understood in a similar manner to that of Diller + Scoficio’s reading of the beaches at Normandy, that of the incessant desire to fabricate and recapitulate history in the form of comfortable ‘heritage’ seemingly striped of its consequence and temporal significance. There seems to be opportunity to exploit latent issues of the site to bring an authentic and more fundamental experience to a site that could most readily be miss taken for something trite or only ‘a past nicety’.
Wind: Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills are known for one thing, wind. Its what brought the Wright Brothers to the place in 1900 and it is still what activates it and causes it to be a dynamic, ever changing landscape of sand, water and sky.
- The project would begin to explore the development of a landscape of kite flying and sand dunes. A place where kids can be kids and genuinely connect with a history and a place, a real participation with flight.
- Flight, an airport terminal which explores the vertical through the resistance brought by the wind.
- The wind fields to generate power, a graveyard of windmills. They begin to make visible the invisible nature of wind.
- Sailing, a boat dock on the beach, which could accentuate the horizon juxtaposed with the vertical nature of the site.
- Kill devil hill, an observation platform to watch the stars and connect with the last unconquered expanse. It in its essence communicates the absence of wind or atmosphere.
In all the project would explore an authentic place where people can connect with the most fundamental experiences of life, kites, flying, sailing, watching sun rises and sunsets, and looking at the stars.
1. Paul Virilio, Bunker Archeology(New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1965):