How can a building provide an urban home to those resisting capitalism?
In a world of noise, distraction, and alienation, Swaying Rock offers refuge, quiet, and community. It provides a less mediated interior, a place to rest, recharge, and simply be still, allowing its inhabitants - radical, counter-cultural media organizations like Adbusters and The Texas Observer - to temporarily retreat from the omnipresence of capitalism in order to fight its power.
The building stands still and assured, with a slight, subtle swaying that expresses the dignity of its purpose. It aspires to be a kind of alternative library, challenging the easy status quo of UT's adjacent campus while cladding itself in the same orange brick palette.
Its monumental windows, designed to provide reading nooks on the interior and planting beds on the exterior, shift one nominal brick, 8", each floor. Its overall form is also turned 6 degrees from perpendicular to the street. Combined, these slight modifications give the project's facade a sense of movement that, if one is paying attention, causes you to look again and wonder... Its interior is made of plain materials, primarily exposed CMU, which can be painted, graffitied, and re-used as ever-adaptable murals (practice for street protests, perhaps?).
Swaying Rock is not a castle or bastion, nor an Easter Island Statue, nor a Hopi cliff dwelling, but it does draw inspiration from all of these. It is evidently human-made and does not rely on metaphor to reaffirm its import. Instead, it resists the Spectacle by simply standing with presence, confident in its ability to meaningfully shelter its community within its own body.
Austin, TX, Fall 2017 (10 weeks), Advanced Studio (Michael Benedikt)