Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Demarcating the Sky.

One of the most awe inspiring sights I’ve ever experienced is a moonless, night sky in the Australian outback. A completely flat uninterrupted landscape turns into 360 degree continuous horizon line and an intense star filled sky completely engulfs your vision. As your eyes adjust to the low light levels over a number of hours, ever more of the vastness of the universe gets projected onto the surface area of your retina.

Completely captivating, it’s hard not to drift into a quiet state of contemplation, wonder and gratitude. As aboriginal folklore reveals, the night sky contains an almost infinite multitude of pictorial stories describing the dreamtime events of creation. Indigenous astronomical observations have shaped entire cultures and the sky has been used as a readily accessible store of knowledge since the dawn of man. Nowadays our everyday observations of the sky are more limited, particularly if living in a city where the delicate point sources of light from distant stars are obscured by the radiant light of modern living. However the sky is still closely observed. Today’s cosmological research is fuelled by the exciting and theories of surreal quantum realities which continue to inspire us to observe the sky and beyond with ever increasing precision and accuracy. The sky is also under close observation to allow the continual orchestration of our aviation industries.

All these modes of viewing and monitoring the heavens have manifested themselves in architecture. From airports to the Nazca Lines man has long sought to make demarcations of the sky into the landscape, either as acts of reverence, tools for navigation or a record of observation. Having spent the last few years labouring on airport master plans, the geometries of apron level taxi lanes, runway configurations and terminal orientations always remind me of the biomorphic Nazca lines which many have speculated are enormous astrological instruments.

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