Thursday, July 17, 2008

Temple of the Human Spirit

In Rand's "Fountainhead," the hero architect designs a "Temple of the Human Spirit" for what turns out to be a fraudulent client. The ideal was to build a place of reverence which had nothing to do with any religion, and which celebrated human greatness and exaltation. Inside, on a central pedestal, was the statue of the woman standing at rapt attention, which I have been working on in previous posts.
In the book, the Temple is destroyed by vicious intellectuals and the hateful public. I decided to design it myself, in a virtual world where even fictional hate cannot reach it. 

I am not an architect though I am constantly thinking about and drawing buildings of any sort. The obvious reference point for the Temple's architecture is Frank Lloyd Wright, who is the model (though he denied it) for Rand's hero. 

The central part of this structure is the large high temple space with the statue in it. The two wings on either side would be a small concert/lecture hall, a library, and some meeting and study rooms. I'm not entirely satisfied with this design because of the rather monotonous lineup of windows in the two wings, but this is only a sketch.

In conceiving this Temple I realized that people would use it for events like (secular) weddings or other gatherings, rather than just sitting quietly in front of the image of perfection. But I also realized that (unlike the hateful crowd Rand wrote about) many people would come to think of the exalted female as a Goddess, and might lay flowers or devotional objects at her sculpted feet. Rand would never approve of that.


Alexander said...

Interesting interpretation of the Temple. Did you recreate it from the fountainhead's description, or interpret it for your own vision?

I ask because I remember the temple itself being less raised, because a raised roof structure is a typical religious choice for architecture. It symbolizes man's incapacity to reach the heavens, etc.

Pyracantha said...

Hi Alexander!

I designed the Temple to follow the idea of the Rand design rather than the exact one she described. The central hall is not a statement of man's weakness but an assertion of rising space and grandeur, in which the statue of the nude woman is on a pedestal in the center. The high ceiling (with spotlights, skylight windows and other effects) makes people feel exalted, not incapable.

TheArchitect said...

I always envisioned the Temple with a high center chamber as well, though I imagined the statue of Dominique on a high pedestal in the center, with the floor sloping up to meet it.

I feel this would add to the exaltation because it would, instead of demonstrating man's inability to reach the heavens it would rather demonstrate the opposite.

After the Temple's relative destruction, it is mentioned by Dominique that Howard built the Temple for a humanity that didn't exist. And it is said by Roark that Mallory (the sculptor) understands the human form so well that his statues are not of human beings but what they can be.

These things suggest that the temple was for man not only feel exalted at the prospect of being man but also to strive towards becoming something greater than that. Ergo, the statue of Dominique represents what man could be, and I feel that having the floor slope upwards to meet the pedestal would symbolize man's journey to becoming the powerful, fully realized humanity that Roark envisioned.

Of course, I'm basing my designs on the idea of the Temple and not necessarily how Roark would have designed it.

Also sorry this is so long, but I've simply been DYING to talk about this with somebody.