Silence in the middle ground: Aesthetic immersion in the geologic

Tiago Torres-Campos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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, between still being a city and already being a geology, reverberate Kafkaesque preoccupations, anxieties and frustrations expressed in "bodies without organs" such as Kafka's The Burrow.

The Church of Solitude may also be read as a speculative architectural situation with a potential to mediate new geo-bio-social and territorial relationships between Manhattan, the atmosphere above and the lithosphere below. Pesce's architectural middle ground foregrounds a zone of interaction between massively distributed and hyper localized terraforming agencies. By pushing the limits of representability within a contemporary scaleless and groundless situation of the Anthropocene, it materialises some of the immaterial properties of silence-a precarious condition of modern "outside worlds"-as new encountered delineations in the geologic.

As vibrant assemblages offering possibilities of deterritorialization, mediation and affection, projects such as The Church of Solitude attune us with planetary forces and dimensions that exist around and within us through alternative aesthetic immersion in the geologic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Place of Silence
Subtitle of host publicationArchitecture / Media / Philosophy
EditorsMark Dorrian, Christos Kakalis
PublisherBloomsbury Visual Arts
ISBN (Electronic)9781350076617, 9781350076600
ISBN (Print)9781350076594
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2020


  • geologic
  • Gaetano Pesce
  • silence


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