4 June 2013

There exists a building that is really an un-building. In a geology of solid rock, this ancient structure was created by cutting into that solidity, digging downwards; the building does not emerge from the ground but is only visible by looking over and into a pit, a pit out of which it rises, so that its roof is at ground level. By excavating thousands of tons of rock the mass of the building emerged from the rocks substance. It could only come into life through hewing and scraping; no adding could bestow presence upon it. Yet its exterior has all the appearance and accoutrements of a built structure joists, pillars, windows, crenellations and decorations in the vernacular of the locality and period of architecture. It appears as a massive, vertically-orientated rectangular castle built of gentle-red-coloured stone.

The building defied entry, at first: a solid block with the appearance of an inhabitable environment but the actuality of a sculpture. All its joists and buttresses were simulation, referring to but not functioning as structures. It was solid. Then, in a process of reverse-archaeology, instead of layers accruing to an ancient structure which must then be scraped back to reveal the original, this building underwent a gradual process of revelation, of coming into being, of rebirth, throughout its history. At points or passages of time after its incarnation seven hundred years ago subsequent un-builders excavated the structure, removing layers of rock to create corridors and chambers within it, aerating and honeycombing its mass. In another seven hundred years perhaps it will be a fine filigree of translucent stone, its interior chambers subtly visible through the mesh of outer walls and strata of structure.

Gail Burton