A solitary man sits on a gentle slope, looking out into the landscape. He meditates on a way to express this unparalleled place through his craft of musical expression. As if created by the sound he imagines, a form begins to take shape around him. The needs for musical expression have carved a place into an invented geological object, the interior of which has taken on the dimensions to achieve the ideal in acoustics and performance. The chamber carved out becomes an inhabitable “lieu de reverberation” — a special place for music and reflection, a place to share a common musical experience, one that is specific to Arney Canyon.
The 10,000 acre site, a flowing monochromatic terrain, is punctuated by elements near and far: geological formations, wildlife, scattered trees.Distances between these dark objects in the landscape make it difficult at first glance to differentiate one from another or determine their scale. Hidden perspectives are revealed as one moves through the landscape, and elements in the topography begin to appear. Vegetal forms comprise an ephemeral layer of life that changes through the seasons, but it is the rock formations that have remained as artefacts through the millennia.
A formal lexicon begins to emerge as one contemplates the land: sky, sun, views to mountains, canyons, gentle slopes flowing like waves, rocks and sparse groups of trees in the distance
The approach to the Tippet Rise Arts Center carefully considered this lexicon of the landscape and aspired to respect the notions of the immensity of scale and distances. Architecture proposed for the site, takes on a nature similar to the rock formations one discovers by moving through the topography. Music, as the universal link between peoples and cultures, would find a way of emerging in this unique landscape by means of architecture. The project seeks to foster a relationship between people and music, offering visitors and inhabitants an opportunity to return to the essentials of creation, allowing them to become observers and participants to the act of composing and creating. The genesis of the musical process is thus linked to the birth and inhabitation of a “place” for it.
To maintain the pure, almost primitive nature of the landscape, it becomes imperative to retain contact with the natural surroundings, while maintaining a precise level of control over them. The Jewel Box, for example, is designed to be a space that accepts the presence of nature while being a completely controllable environment. While reflecting on how to meaningfully inhabit an extraordinarily beautiful landscape, this project addresses how to successfully contain music without limiting its expression.
Despite their distances from each other, the three main components of the master plan (artist residences, the Jewel Box Performance Space, and the amphitheater) work as one coherent ensemble, forming a triangular spread and ensuring that each element is sited so as to offer unobstructed views of the landscape. The residences and jewel box have unhindered vistas toward the canyon and mountains, while the amphitheater—positioned centrally—has a view back toward both while employing the upward slope of the topography for sound projection. The triangle connecting the architectural elements becomes the zone for artworks in the landscape.
The Choice of wood for the buildings evokes a rapport with the landscape, and the climate and weathering of mineral objects. Large rocks that are found in place can be integrated directly into the buildings where the opportunity presents itself. Since the buildings appear as found rocks on the site, they are envisaged to integrate right into their vegetal surroundings.
Our purpose in designing the Tippet Rise Arts Center is to nurture the arts in all its forms. The master plan projects a natural approach, in fact, a parcours, for the experience of art. In that way, art may be seen as working as a guide to the visitor’s perception of the exquisite site, a mediator between architecture and the topography.