McNeal 020: A Landscape for Experience

Atelier David Telerman

Architects: Atelier David Telerman
Location: Arizona, USA
Area: 267 m2
Year: 2020

McNeal 020 emerged from the desires of David Telerman and a private client based in France to build a perennial structure in the American desert, Southern Arizona, in response to a shared fascination for the surrealist natural surroundings, which years before brought artists such as Max Ernst in search of new forms. By bringing together the raw elements of the surrounding place, the building must offer up a landscape for experience, as a photographer or a painter might do by their own means, with precise attention to the vastness of the desert, the weight of the wind and the geometrical precision of the light.

The pavilion, all made of cast-in-place reinforced concrete, is composed of an inverted pyramid, digging into the ground and closed in the center. At the top, extending from the roof, are four lines of various lengths flattened onto the ground: elongated lines that direct the visitor; lines to walk above, to feel the verticality of a fragile body, the fear of falling; lines below, to capture the ever-changing light, distorted shadows waving on the steps as precise pendulums.

Inside, a linear bench faces the door and the light of the sunset streaming in. The underground structure, not visible when entering the site from the East, gradually appears, revealing a breach, the steps and the central space: the organization of a procession.

Despite its apparent simplicity, the structure expresses, in an almost primitive way, the contrast between nature that gradually disappears down the stairs into the quiet, and the view of nature reappearing as you climb the stairs: the reddish ground, heavy wind and the mountains in the distance.