Michael Hansmeyer & Benjamin Dillenburger

Focus ArchiLab

A new take on the archetype of the “grotto”, the space of an aesthetic confrontation between nature and architecture, this “life-size” device invites visitors to take part in an immersive experience, one that is both sensitive and contemplative.

As if sculpted in primeval rock, the inner façades of this Grotto are the result of an algorithmic subdivision process followed by 3D printing using a mix of sandstone (silica sand) and an inorganic binder. The deposit of a thin layer of matter creates an envelope whose complex circumvolutions form two asymmetrical alcoves whose different modules, in turn, are supported on the outside by a steel frame.

Somewhere between a structure and decoration, this topography with numerous recesses and projections synthesises the principles of order and symmetry in a free and organic expression of forms.
The piece’s aesthetic force is due to this miniaturised world that amplifies perception and convokes numerous aesthetic analogies and references – geological phenomena, rockwork grottos, baroque religious spaces with their crossshaped structure, abundance of details and theatricality. Hansmeyer’s proposal also echoes the baroque feature of the “fold” that, according to Deleuze, “unfurls all the way to infinity”; it nevertheless stands out through its ornamental character, which here doesn’t rest on an accumulation of decorative elements but results from the very production process itself.