the world's most visited architecture website
i

Sign up now and start saving and organizing your favorite architecture projects and photos

Sign up now to save and organize your favorite architecture projects

i

Find the most inspiring products for your projects in our Product Catalog.

Find the most inspiring products in our Product Catalog.

i

Get the ArchDaily Chrome Extension and be inspired with every new tab. Install here »

i

All over the world, architects are finding cool ways to re-use run-down old buildings. Click here to see the best in Refurbishment Architecture.

Want to see the coolest refurbishment projects? Click here.

i

Immerse yourself in inspiring buildings with our selection of 360 videos. Click here.

See our immersive, inspiring 360 videos. Click here.

All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions
Navigate articles using your keyboard
  1. ArchDaily
  2. Articles
  3. New Harmony Grotto: A reinterpretation of Frederick Kielser’s Grotto for Meditation / METALAB Architecture + Fabrication

New Harmony Grotto: A reinterpretation of Frederick Kielser’s Grotto for Meditation / METALAB Architecture + Fabrication

New Harmony Grotto: A reinterpretation of Frederick Kielser’s Grotto for Meditation / METALAB Architecture + Fabrication
© Andrew Vrana
© Andrew Vrana

New Harmony Grotto, by METALAB Architecture + Fabrication, is a reinterpretation of  avant garde architect Frederick Kielser’s Grotto for Meditation. With the growing genre of architecture generated by biomorphic design and biomimetic processes, a reevaluation of Kiesler’s work is ever more timely. During the mid-20th century he became increasingly occupied with the relationship of structure and natural form in architecture. The Cave of the New Being (also known as the Grotto for Meditation), proposed in the 1960s for New Harmony, Indiana, represented the designer’s pièce de résistance, embodying all of the intellectual currents of his era, from surrealism to biotechnics, yet it was never realized.

© Andrew Vrana © Andrew Vrana © Andrew Vrana © Andrew Vrana + 13

Architects: METALAB Architecture + Fabrication Location: University of Houston Campus, Houston, Texas, USA Partner/Principals: Andrew Vrana and Joe Meppelink Original Client and Patron: Jane Blaffer Owen Studio Critics: Andrew VranaVisiting Assistant Professor and Joe Meppelink, Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Houston College of Architecture Visiting Critic: Ben Nicholson, Associate Professor, School of Art Institute Chicago Fifth year Design Studio Digital Fabrication Seminar Student Team Leaders: Juan Deleon, Rosalia Covarrubias, Lee Kelly, Minh Nguyen, Justin Garret and Michael Gonzales CNC Fabrication: Ambox, Ltd. (laser cut stainless steel) Historic Documentation and Design: 2008 Fabrication and Installation: 2010 Structural FEA Analysis: Steve Boak, Buro Happold Engineers Photographs: Andrew Vrana

Through the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and thanks to the patronage of Mrs. Jane Blaffer Owen, Kiesler’s original client, professors Andrew Vrana, Joe Meppelink, Ben Nicholson, together with undergraduate students, all embarked on formal research and tectonic fulfillment of the project, utilizing digital modeling and fabrication technologies. The participants complemented research with the help of archival resources, accessed via the Blaffer and the Kiesler Foundations. More than providing closure on an unfinished project, the New Harmony Grotto will function as a permanent landmark on the UH university campus, as part of a meditation pond next to the Philip Johnson designed College of Architecture.

Rendering
Rendering

The team’s investigations endeavored to synthesize Kiesler’s seemingly impenetrable notions of “continuous tension” and “co-realism,” along with his initial handling of biomorphism and recursive geometry in design. With the aid of three-dimensional scanning, reverse engineering and digital fabrication, the team spawned a structural/spatial apparatus that pays tribute to Kiesler’s intended maritime-inspired forms and tiled patterning parametrically designed into a minimal surface.

Model of New Harmony Grotto with Kiesler's original gate
Model of New Harmony Grotto with Kiesler's original gate

The grid shell framework made of stainless steel has been completed and installed on its site next to the pond The next phase of selective infill in the cells with concrete for seating and ballast along with growing medium in other locations to foster the growth of vegetation into the Grotto’s surface has been planned. With regrets we mark the passing of the Jane Blaffer Owen this past summer at the age of 95. Her patronage to the avant garde architecture of Frederick Kiesler and our efforts to complete her vision will be missed.

Parametri Iterations of Voronoi gridshell structures
Parametri Iterations of Voronoi gridshell structures

Model of Frederick Kielser’s Grotto for Meditation
Model of Frederick Kielser’s Grotto for Meditation

View the complete gallery

See more:

Articles
Cite: Kelly Minner. "New Harmony Grotto: A reinterpretation of Frederick Kielser’s Grotto for Meditation / METALAB Architecture + Fabrication" 07 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/101711/new-harmony-grotto-a-reinterpretation-of-frederick-kielser%25e2%2580%2599s-grotto-for-meditation-metalab-architecture-fabrication/> ISSN 0719-8884
Read comments