'T' Space goes virtual with the architecture of Earth

Literally Groundbreaking

'T' Space goes virtual with the architecture of Earth

The Rhinebeck, New York–based ‘T’ Space is kicking off its 2020 Synthesis of the Arts season with Ca’n Terra: Architecture of the Earth, a virtual reality exhibition detailing Ensamble Studio’s lauded 2018 conversion of a quarry into a house in Menorca, Spain.

The new show is a continuation of the research conducted by Ensamble’s founders, Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa, as they explored how an abandoned marés sandstone quarry, typically a gash on the landscape, could be recycled into something with a useful purpose. More than a typical adaptive reuse project, the Ensamble team also strategically “quarried light” to illuminate what was originally a pitch-black, underground industrial space—a perfect fit, thematically, to show in a Steven Holl-designed gallery.

‘T’ Space’s virtual survey of the project, which opens July 18, is broken into three main components: Discovering (the 3D scanning of the unlit cavern to create a model of the existing structure), Carving (excavating new holes to let natural light in), and Atmosphere (the accoutrements added to make the space livable and what that actually entails). Through a combination of construction photos and videos, images of the site pre-intervention, didactics from the architects, 3D scans of the tunnel-like quarry, time-lapse videos, and new photos of the completed projects, participants can explore every step of the project without having to leave their homes.

An overlay of a map over a google streetview photo of a quarry, from 'T' Space
A screenshot of virtual navigation through the exhibition. (Provided by ‘T’ Space)

“Ca’n Terra is the house of the earth: first just that, earth, after quarried with industrial logic, voided and abandoned, to be rediscovered one hundred years later and come to be architecture,” wrote Ensamble. “If the history of civilization has evolved transforming ideas into matter, here the process is inverted. We enter the space like explorers would do, equipped with the technology that expands our vision in the dark; scanning the solid structure that was built for us. Behind the scan, the architect’s eye, directing, interpreting, creating the space again, completing it with operations that are familiar to the stone mass: new cuts to build using air and light. Architecture appears. Then we can inhabit. In lieu of the imposing action that we often exert on the environment, we propose a trip to the interior being of matter, and recognize the beauty of the spaces that are waiting to be lived.”

Ca’n Terra: Architecture of the Earth will be open on July 18 with a free tour through the show by Ensamble, a poetry reading, and a percussive performance; interested readers can register on the gallery’s website. The exhibition will remain on display through October 31.