Silence in Middle Ground: Aesthetic Immersion in the Geologic

Tiago Ferraz Leal Torres Campos

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In 1974, the Italian post-modernist architect Gaetano Pesce imagined an underground church beneath an empty parking lot in Manhattan. The Church of Solitude was a three-year speculative project that emerged as a reaction to the architect’s experience in the over-crowded and overwhelmingly chaotic city of New York.

The three large-scale rendered drawings that compose The Church of Solitude reveal a complex prism-shaped cave hollowed out of an unstable and reactive ground. For Pesce the buried church was an opportunity to provide a contemplative and introspective place of silence, away from the turbulence and horror of the metropolis above. The representational qualities of the project as a Deleuzean rhizomatic experience reverberate Kafkaesque preoccupations, anxieties and frustrations expressed in fictional narratives such as The Burrow.

The Church of Solitude may also be read as a speculative display with a potential to mediate new territorial relations among scales between Manhattan and the bedrock that supports it. Pesce’s architectural response to the physical conditions of the rock foregrounds the middle ground as a zone of interaction between massively distributed and hyper localized terraforming agencies, and materialises the immaterial properties of silence—a precarious condition of modern “outside worlds”—as an aesthetic immersion in the geologic.

While the middle ground as an interactive mediation is conducive of architectural representations that push the limits of representability of scale in space and time, silence as an immersion in the geologic attunes us with cultural preoccupations and aesthetic sensations related to an emerging awareness that humans have become a dominant geologic force of change with a planetary scale.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2016
EventThe Place of Silence: Experience, Environment and Affect - Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Jun 201624 Jun 2016


ConferenceThe Place of Silence: Experience, Environment and Affect
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Anthropocene
  • Church of Solitude
  • Gaetano Pesce
  • Gilles Deleuze
  • Kafka
  • Geologic
  • Silence


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