By Hunter Wilson
I am Hunter Wilson, a student currently studying in the Southern Illinois University Masters of Architecture program. I began my education at Vincennes University located in my hometown of Vincennes, Indiana. After receiving an Associate’s Degree in Architectural Studies, I transferred to SIU where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree and still study today.
The project for the Summer 2015 graduate studio, here at SIU, dealt with proposing an open-air museum. The museum displays a specific collection of pieces of architecture around the site at full scale. This particular project deals with the idea of “Contemporary Tranquility”. This phrase describes this museum’s architectural collection. The collection consists of architecture that is meant to give the user a sense of serenity that creates a spiritual experience. These structures are humble in their design and personal in their feeling.
The site is near the banks of Little Grassy Lake in southern Illinois state. The site is just above 30 acres that is mostly hilly grassland. The bank along the lake is within the realm of the site that is available for museum use. A miniature peninsula exists on the southwest end of the site that is mainly partially-dense forest.
The ultimate objective was to create an open-air museum that consists of an entry building/hub and a collection of architecture with shared, specific qualities. The overall design must mimic the ideals and principles used within the collection, whether it be technical or metaphorical.
The collection of buildings for “Contemporary Tranquility” is as follows: All Saints Chapel, Chandgaon Mosque, Forest Chapel, Islamic Cemetery, and the Bruder Klaus Field Chapel. All of these pieces of architecture portray the essence of “Contemporary Tranquility”.
The All Saints Chapel is a one room sanctuary. To the side of the structure sits a reflective pool. This pool is reminiscent of baptismal waters. Baptism in children usually occurs at infancy. This though process allows the All Saints Chapel to be a suitable starting point for the journey through the museum.
The Chandgaon Mosque is a sacred Islamic prayer hall. Above the prayer hall is a skylight. When viewed in plan view, the skylight mimics the shape of an eyeball. This sets the stage for the second stop on the journey. After birth, during one’ younger years, they are looked upon by an overseer to offer guidance while growing. The skylight is the overseer.
The Forest Chapel is located on a woodsy, college campus in Japan. This chapel is most notable for being a wedding chapel. Usually midway through life, one finds a partner to spend the rest of the journey. This allows the Forest Chapel a spot midway through the museum experience.
The Islamic Cemetery stands in silence in honor of the fallen. As the journey comes to a close, it is fitting to visit a cemetery where the body is laid to rest for eternity. The cemetery has a secluded prayer hall to mourn the lost. Also as is Islamic tradition, the dead are resting on their side facing the holy city of Mecca.
The Bruder Klaus Memorial Chapel is the most intimate of structures that appear in this collection. A single ray of light from above shines down into the damp, airy space inside. This dream-like experience makes it worthy of the last stop on the museum tour. As for life, this space is almost as if it is a proper space for the spirit to reside. As the body resides in the cemetery, the spirit lives confined and unable to escape itself.