Thursday, 30 September 2010

"Architecture Where the Desire May Live: Orchid's Collector Chamber in Subterranean Cave"

This project questions whether the existence of an aesthetic desire can trigger a desire to create something beyond the object or image itself. This idea is investigated through the metaphor of the orchid, an aesthetically beautiful object that is known to provoke responses of obsession and desire. It is supposed that through this, we may find a place where the desire may live and learn what an architecture of desire could be.
The inspiration to construct a subterranean collector's chamber is the architecture of desire for the scientist and senior researcher from Kew Gardens. He has a passion for studying orchids and this desire for knowledge about the orchids is expressed through his work, collection and new discoveries about this living organism. The Scientist lost his own plants and has a desire for a place where he can store and collect orchids.

"The botanical complexity of orchids and their mutability makes them perhaps the most compelling and maddening of all collectible living things... To desire orchids is to have a desire that can never be fully requited. A collector who wants one of every orchid species will die before even coming close." (Orlean, 1995).


Site master plan in Royston Town

Cave plan

Orchid's Collector Chamber

A_Entry to Cavernous Chamber

Atmospheric Revelation

Excessive Entrance

B_Light Testing Room

Light Podium

Podium Approach

C_Orchids Exhibition Space

Underground Exposition_1

Underground Exposition_2

D_Collector's Laboratory

Cloning chamber

Scientist Table

E_Cultivation zone

Orchids cultivation passage

Orchids intermission

Wednesday, 30 June 2010


‘Subterranean LABORATORY for cloning orchids’

This project questions whether the existance of an aesthetic desire can trigger a desire to create something beyond the object or image itself. This idea is investigated through the metaphor of the orchid, an aesthetically beautiful object that is known to provoke responses of obsession and desire. The project takes living organism-orchids- from which the framework for potential architectures of desire are constructed. It is supposed that through this, we ,may find a place where where the desire may live and learn what an architecture of desire could be.

The subterranean Laboratory is the place to clone orchids which explores the underground cave as a representational model of Desire which had never been fully achieved by an eccentric plant dealer and nurseryman John Laroche who is the main character of the true story of beauty and obsession written by the journalist Susan Orlean’s book ‘The orchid Thief’.

The inspiration to construct The subterranean Laboratory is the architecture of desire for John Laroche. He had lost his own plants and had a desire to open his own nursery again and to build a laboratory for cloning orchids. (The story was used as the basis of the 2002 film Adaptation.)

> Story:

New orchids are being created in laboratories or discovered every day, and others exist only in tiny numbers in remote places. To desire orchids is to have a desire that can never be fully requited. A collector who wants one of every orchid species will die before even coming close.... John Laroche passion have started when he was growing up, little boy and his mother would hike through the Fakahatchee Strand and other South Florida swamps, looking for unusual things . Sometimes they would tag orchids that were in bloom and come back a few months later to see if they had formed any seeds. For a while, Laroche's passion was to photograph every single species of orchid in bloom in Florida; he and his mother would trudge through the swamp, carrying cameras, for hours on end. As he got older, Laroche went from wanting pictures of orchids to wanting orchids themselves. In 1983 when he was twenty-three, and that same year he and his wife opened a nursery in North Miami. He had dozens and dozens of orchids. Laroche particularly enjoyed cloning them and mutating them. He also figured out how to propagate certain species that had rarely been propagated in a laboratory. Day and night, people would drop by his house to talk about plants and to admire his collection. People would give him plants in exchange for his leading them on hikes through the Fakahatchee just so they could look at a plant that interested them.

John Laroche had planned to clone the orchids and then sell them for a small fortune to impassioned collectors. But he lost his own plants after the calamitous frost in South Florida in 1989 which killed orchids and other plants in greenhouses all around the country. After this accident he decided then and there that he would die of a broken heart if he ever opened his own nursery again.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, didn't have a nursery, but the idea of starting one was among many self-help projects contemplated by the tribe. Laroche was hired by the tribe. He decided to make the nursery something spectacular. He also wanted to build a laboratory for cloning orchids. He was not interested in corsage orchids: he wanted to cultivate rare endangered species that are now available only on the black market. If he succeeded, he would wreak havoc on the illegal plant trade.

After he was hired by the Seminoles, Laroche's new passion became Indian law. He spent hours in the University of Miami law library. He studied the State of Florida's case against the Miccosukee Indians for poaching palm fronds. When his research was done, Laroche was convinced he had found a loophole in the state code which exempted Seminoles from laws protecting rare plants.

In 1994 Laroche had been arrested along with a crew of Seminoles for poaching rare orchids out of the wild swamp of South Florida. He set off one of the oddest legal controversies in recent memory, which brought together environmentalists, Native American activists, and devoted orchid collectors. The result is a tale that is strange, compelling, and hilarious.

John Laroche after this case had won and lost. He had found the loophole in the law but lost the case; found the orchids but lost the right to keep them; and found himself famous but slightly disgraced.

Orlean, Susan. January 23, 1995. ‘Orchid Fever’. The New Yorker.

What subterranean cave can offer? What is special about it? Is it the best place for orchids, would it be the right environment for them? Why?

The inspiration for this chosen underground cave location as possibility of future botanical cultivation came from Francesco Trabucco‘s project ‘A Flower Factory for the Caves Beneath Naples‘. Particulary relevant his views on using special equipment and architectural design to transform cave into ornamental flower laboratory : ‘a sterile laboratory, set up at the system entrance, in which plant cloning and micropropagation are conducted. Successful shoots are then placed in growth chambers until they are large enough to transplant to trays, which have holes that are sized and spaced according to the morphology of the individual plants‘. (Trabucco,1988).According to Trabucco, from this special place, these flowers grown in such unique architectural circumstances would be harvested, pruned, crated, and shipped all over the world—and probably no one would know their actual origin.

As Francesco Trabucco, one of Zanuso's collaborators on the project, wrote in Rassegna's underground issue, the project was for:
‘The operating principle of the phytotron involves creating and monitoring the optimum microenvironment for plant growth: temperature, air humidity, lighting, photoperiodism and nutrition. At the same time, all negative factors tied to the natural environment are eliminated, i.e. climatic variation, the unpredictability of precipitation, variability in the length of the solar day, and—naturally—air and water pollution, and infestation by plants and animals. In the conditions created inside a phytotron, a plant grows at a pace that can be accelerated, with the complete absence of pollutants that are now widely present in plants grown 'naturally,' such as weed killers, insecticides, pesticides, acid rain, smog deposits and chemical fertilizers.
It's basically an underground greenhouse, of course, but a fully automated one forming its own subterranean microclimate. The botanical results are not tomatoes, corn, wheat, or cucumbers, however, but prize flowers.
It's a kind of cultivated series of entombed precision-microclimates powered by a surrogate sun‘.

(Cited from:

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Architecture spaces can be formed in many ways, the new environment depends on the object which will be forming a part of it. Going against trends and occupying spaces, using contrast elements to reconstruct it. The project looks for new and unusual territories in small and dark underground spaces investigating it and using different parts to construct through the eyes of botanist. One of the objectives is to construct an underground environment, to build up the space for the hybrid orchids species. The architectural idea is to interlace the delicate and pure organism of nature with dark, deep and hidden subterranean spaces. Since the begging of my project I was always interested in a dualistic approach and two spaces above and below ground, the connection of two things, looking through the totality about the connection between opposites in the spaces.

I'm trying to develop and reconstruct something that can be inhabited and planted in the subterranean space. The aim of my project is to seek, activate and define new roles for the new place, new territory underneath and digging deep below the surface to make the whole underground to grow. As in the architectural terms, creating an environment for the growing orchids, creating space of living that would be a new living space for plants which would allow to articulate spatially and to deal with it architectonically. The film "Adaptation" ( by Charlie Kaufman 28/02/2003) is a great and inspirational movie, especially related to orchids and the idea how they adapt to different environments. It is based on Susan Orlean's non- fiction book "The Orchid Thief" through the self- referential events.

The special underground location to develop my architecture is situated at the intersection of cardinal roads with the cave sitting underneath of crossroads in Royston. The two ancient roads forming the crossroads around which Royston developed. This below the surface artificial cave has different suggestions about the way it was created. This cave is unique in Britain for its numerous carvings, unknown mysterious origin, symbolism and unfamiliarity. The real origin and one of suggestions were humans interacting with the landscape in which the crossing of two roads was visualised as 'axis mundi' . The meaning of "axis mundi" describes the vertical connection of both spaces above ground and below ground there the cave is also very important part of it and Phillip Coppens in his article "Royston Cave: creating a medieval magical centre" emphasizes the unique combination of the site'' ... the creation of roads and crossroads was an important aspect- the crossing of two roads was visualised as an axis mundi: an axis of the world, in which not only two roads on the horizontal plane crossed, but a vertical line existed that connected Earth both to Heaven and the Underworld...." (Phillip Coppens "Royston Cave: creating a medieval magical centre ", article appeared in "Hera" nr.90, july 2007). The fascinating part of subterranean cave is narrow shafts leading up to the ground level, different carvings, holes, opening going through to the dark and hidden areas and connecting them with the other spaces of the cave. In my project these underground openings could be transformable spaces, using the sections through them and the landscape building up the new network of the caves and creating the new below ground living.