top of page

Uncanny Spires

Invited Distinguished Professor:

Barry Wark. Biophile


Gabriel Esquivel,  Studio Professor

Texas A&M University


Team: Julia Vasilyeb, Ana Rico, Austin White, Philips Fafiyeb, Erick Baylon.

Uncanny Spires intends to cultivate a cultural awareness and appreciation of non-humans by acknowledging the architecture as a co-production of multiple authors. These authors, which include water, time, deposition, and others affect the parts, and whole of the building. The individual parts of our building are understood as a series of interconnected systems which can operate separately or harmoniously with each other.

We began by examining the aesthetic qualities of ‘ancient’ buildings and analyzing why we as humans permit or expect non-human propagation onto these structures. We pursued these articulations through a precedent study and found elements of half symmetry and seams, which we added into our design. The posture and orientation of the buildings was also incorporated in our designs. In some of the iterations interior qualities and sectional development was further pursued and implemented.


Our strategy to integrate non-humans into the urban space is through peaks, seams, apertures, and a delicate continuation within the urban park through a folly which allows non-humans the opportunity to propagate. From a distance, the spires and peaks can be perceived interacting with the existing city skyline.


The integration of the park as part of the overall building mass is a strategy to dissolve the anthropocentric idea of parks as the only connection to nature in the urban environment. This serves to blur the perceived distance between humans and non-humans by limiting the idea that humans can choose when and where they interact with non-humans.


The building also sits within a semi enclosed courtyard that wraps around it on three sides, and therefore requires movement through the site in order to unwrap the building and access the park. This uncanny silhouette, the physical qualities of the building peaks, with their sharp slopes and the recursive nature, creates further propagation of non-humans operating independently from human space. This works to reinforce the concept that humans only play a part in the ecology, instead of controlling it. Non-humans will propagate, interact, and integrate with or without any oversight.

The silhouette creates surface runoff conditions that further emphasize the varied resolutions of exterior recursive primitives and give agency to non human entities. The project connects these nonhuman and human spaces through vertical seams and by populating the site with fragments of artifacts. By implying the idea of a natural erosion that could take place over many years, we reinforce the notion of the ruin that is both incomplete and completed, obscuring the timescale of the building.


Furthermore, the integration of seams and areas of openness allow for the propagation of non-humans and further expresses qualities of humbleness. The interior spaces have a lot of cohabitatible areas that reinforce ideas of ecocentrism and break down the idea of anthropocentrism.


These seams break into the building as channels that run all throughout the building on both the interior and exterior spaces, promoting the non-human elements to interact and coexist with the human, and the human is not aware of it at all times. This is another design element that breaks down the notion that humans are the only inhabitants of a space.


The seams also cut through in the section, giving a visual of the light that would be collected in them. This interaction is visible in some areas but hidden in others. These active seams which affect the building and ground allow for movement of light and water between the ground, building, and park, allowing for the non-human to propagate further.


The uncanny spires from which these seams begin - subvert our understanding of habitation through the vicarious propagation of non-human entities. Openings from these spires serve non-human entities and humans, allowing water, air and light through these passages as mentioned earlier. In addition to allowing light and water retention into our building, the verticality of the peaks have more probability for the displacement of non-human growth vertically.


As the seams travel down the spires, the surface area increases, and the edges created promote plant growth. This articulation is seen throughout our building, and was a huge part of the design process, when considering how we could promote ecocentrism and co-existence. These conditions will allow the propagation of non-humans into unexpected interiorities and acknowledge the coproduction of multiple authors into the space.


The 3D chunk that was developed shows the articulations of the building. The material is also present in this model, which shows a detailed view of all the textures and surface conditions that influence the building's ability to propagate plants and such. The 3D model also gives a perspective of how the interior space interacts with the exterior, and as well as the seams previously discussed.

It is an argument for a relationship between non-human agents. That co-authorship needs to build itself through time, and the strategy of the spires and seams become an important element because they add reclusiveness for the non-human to propagate without human intervention.

This project does not attempt to derive ethics from the aesthetic value of our proposal, but rather intends to cultivate an awareness, appreciation and promotion of non-humans by acknowledging the architecture as a co-production of multiple authors.


bottom of page