Sculpting Light through a Marble Dome
The skies above the resort town of José Ignacio in Uruguay are filled with the ephemeral essence of light, darkness and the infinite shades of the clouds, but now they have also been given a far more tangible form in the white marble of Ta Khut. The latter is actually the name of the first skyspace in the whole of South America, a dome with a circular skyward opening created by famed American artist James Turrell. The original idea for the project came from the owners and artistic directors of the La Posada Ayana hotel, Edda and Robert Kofler, who brought the artist in for a project that took over two years to create in the resort’s garden.
In Ancient Egyptian, Ta Khut means quite simply “the light” and this work is an immersive experience first and a location second, an opportunity to engage with a sky that is often seen as overly distant and unreachable. At the heart of forging connections between the earth and the sky in this skyspace is the choice of material: white Lasa Marmo marble from the South Tyrol region of Italy. The Koflers asked Turrell to carve out a slice of sky inside a circular structure that measures 9.44 m across and 7.62 m high from a marble structure weighing 42 tons.
Designed to resemble a Stupa - an ancient, hemispherical type of structure that is found in Buddhist art - the dome stands in a sort of rectangular temple covered with earth and grass with an open-air corridor between the two structures. “This is a merging of two great traditions”, explained the American artist. “Pyramids are found in the Gobi Desert in China, in Mayan culture and also in Egypt. And all of this is tied to the Stupa, from Tibet”. The doors are made of Lapacho wood, while the floor is an earthy, merlot granite that recalls the colors of Turrell’s Arizona. The use of Lasa marble provides another connection to childhood, but this time it is Robert Kofler’s childhood, during which he often spent his summers in Lasa. La Posada Ayana has an eco-sustainable ethos and the choice of the material not only meets the structural requirements of the dome, but takes forward this driving philosophy. “The small size of marble split face helped reduce waste and perfectly matched the client’s sustainable vision”, explained Patrick Pritzi from Lasa Marmo.
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