[Image: “Vaulted Chamber” by Matthew Simmonds].
While writing the previous post, I remembered the work of Matthew Simmonds, a British stonemason turned sculptor who carves beautifully finished, miniature architectural scenes into otherwise rough chunks of rock.
[Image: “Sinan: Study” by Matthew Simmonds].
Simmonds seems primarily to use sandstone, marble, and limestone in his work, and focuses on producing architectural forms either reminiscent of the ancient world or of a broadly “sacred” character, including temples, church naves, and basilicas.
[Image: “Basilica III” by Matthew Simmonds].
You can see many more photos on his own website or over at Yatzer, where you, too, might very well have seen these last year.
[Image: “Fragment IV” by Matthew Simmonds].
Someone should commission Simmonds someday soon to carve, in effect, a reverse architectural Mt. Rushmore: an entire hard rock mountain somewhere sculpted over decades into a warren of semi-exposed rooms, cracked open like a skylight looking down into a deeper world, where Simmonds’s skills can be revealed at a truly inhabitable spatial scale.
[Image: “Caves for New York” (1942) by Hugh Ferriss].
After writing the previous post—about Hong Kong’s impending infrastructural self-burial in the form of artificial caves beneath the island city—I remembered an image by Hugh Ferriss, preeminent architectural illustrator of the early 20th century, exploring huge air-raid shelters for New York City carved out of the rock cliffs of New Jersey.
“These shelters were to be 30 meters high and 60 meters wide and cut into the cliffs of the Hudson Palisades along the New Jersey side, and were to house planes, factories and hundreds of thousands of people,” Jean-Louis Cohen recounts in the recent book Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War.
[Image: The New Jersey Palisades, via Wikipedia].
While this, of course, never happened, it’s a heady thing to contemplate: an alternative New York City burrowed deep into the geologic mass of New Jersey, a delirium of excavation heading west, away from these islands at risk from wartime annihilation, in a volumetric Manhattanization of empty bedrock.