Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Surface Structural Patterning

A series of studies involving different patterns projected, mapping or generated along a surface. The fact that a patterned surface can perform as a minimal structure opens the possibility to us that Kiesler's Grotto might be constructed using a frame rather than a homogeneous amorphous mass. This moves us toward an assembly of rigid parts instead of an arrested liquid such as concrete.


This series of sketches exemplifies the exploration of Kiesler's spaces through the medium he used consistently throughout his career. The expression of topological space formed by a closely measured presence of the body is one point of departure for our current work.

Detail Analysis

Kiesler was a prolific designer of visionary architecture as well as furnishings, exhibitions, interiors and theatrical spaces. An analysis of this peripheral material has been an essential tool for us to understand his broader intentions and to help us abstract the Grotto's design into a series of elements that we can riff on as we move forward with the tectonic resolution of the Grotto in our terms.

Sectional Analysis

Kiesler and his various drafting assistants produced several versions of the Grotto in section. An important task is to compare these original studies at a common scale to see what the essential qualities were in development and how they contradict each other.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Phase 1 Complete

The students have completed the Formal Research & Documentation phase of the project.

PDF files can be downloaded and viewed:


username: studiokiesler

password: grotto

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Interview with Jane Blaffer Owen

On January 26th, during Ben Nicholson's first visit to Houston, we had the opportunity of meet and interview Mrs. Owen about Kiesler's Grotto and related subjects. She spoke at length about the circumstances surrounding the commissioning of the project, its demise and our renewed interest in this important work by a visionary architect. She described the influence of Paul Tillich on the genesis of the project: The Cave of the New Being. We will all travel in a month to visit the utopian town of New Harmony. We'll tour the original proposed site for the Grotto, the adjacent Roofless Church by Philip Johnson and walk the town with Ben.

Model 1

Our first challenge was to reproduce the original bronze model built by Frederick Kiesler in 1963 using the latest 3D scanning, CNC fabrication and rapid prototyping technologies. This model was presented to the students at the initiation of the project as a point of departure rather than the end goal of the studio's exploration

It's on!

Welcome to the Grotto...