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Monument of Light


Bruno Braga, Bruno Perdigão, Igor Ribeiro and Luiz Cattony;


Frederico Leite, Julia Mafaldo and Maiara Lacerda (interns)


Sobral - CE, 2018

* Honorable mention  in the Monumento da Luz Contest organized by the City Hall of Sobral and IAB-CE




When scientists went to Sobral in 1919, on the occasion of the solar eclipse, and proved the Theory of General Relativity, this event brought very significant repercussions for scientific knowledge, such as the influence that gravity exerts both on the trajectory of light rays and on the passage of time.

The construction of the Monument of Light, which pays homage to this historical fact, should not seek to simulate or imitate a feat of such importance, but rather to understand what was achieved and, somehow, indirectly refer to the event, understanding the limits of the attributes of the architectural language. In this sense, this proposal seeks to work with three elements that are fundamental in the 1919 discovery and that are also part of the architectural work material: light, gravity and time. The question that remains is: how can these three aspects interact in this new landmark for the city of Sobral, in order to reference the physical phenomenon but enhancing its architectural spatial characteristics?

Of the options suggested by the contest for the construction of the Monument of Light, Area A, on the Left Margin of the Acaraú River, was chosen. The choice considers the importance of the Monument under two main aspects: its symbolic dimension and its urban potential. Regarding the first, in order to highlight the city of Sobral and the event itself to which the work refers, it was considered that this land has more significant characteristics. Its location at the entrance to the city has a strong and striking visual appeal, with great tourist potential, especially considering that the left margin of the river is an area already planned to house programs and equipments for this purpose.

However, in addition to the symbolic load, it is considered that Area A, as it is larger, opens up more possibilities for the project to extrapolate the function of a simple monument and to think of a wider public space, a square, which can be attractive to the visitor but, mainly, to the population. It seemed more interesting to overcome the notion of isolated, sculptural and self-referential object, just for visual enjoyment, and create an inviting, attractive, educational and accessible area that encourages the population's appropriation and allows for different uses over time. In this sense, the proposal goes beyond the idea of sculpture and gains an urban dimension, acting as a potential catalyst for improvements in its immediate surroundings.




Once the initial approach based on the interpretation of the elements of light, gravity and time in their architectural dimensions was defined and the intervention area and its potentials were decided, the monument project was articulated from the design of a rectangular volume of 10.00 by 2.50 by 16.00 meters, with a robust scale and a disturbing crack that divides it in two, and which acts as a central element from which these potentials are assembled.

And here is presented the first element explored: time. The Monument of Light requires time for appreciation, mere passive observation is not enough. Therefore, at first, considering its role as a prominent element in the landscape, its simple and timeless form, but also expressive and with a strong identity, generates a primitive element, from which different interpretations and appropriations can occur, in order to awaken the curiosity about its scale at first sight from a distance and visual appropriation, and several discoveries in a second moment of physical approximation. Located at the central point of the land, the volume acts as an articulator of a square around it, with several possibilities of appropriation by the population, when once again time acts. Depending on the day, the time, the Monument can be apprehended in a different way, not by itself, but by the use of its surroundings, the square.

Getting closer, on the scale of the urban space created, it is clear that the volume is slightly raised from the ground, and the other two elements, light and gravity, work together to release the heavy sculptural element, which gains lightness. The absence of light suggests the absence of gravity, and the force of the built volume's weight is amplified generating an apparent tension through the shadow that seems to make it float. With a simple game of visual angles, the simple volume starts to arouse more curiosity and interesting visual appreciations.

Finally, getting even closer, at the scale of the object itself, it is possible to explore the game of angles even more, since the slit reveals itself as a set of internal mirrors in which, depending on the position, you can see what's on the other side. Just as, starting with the 1919 discovery, we see stars that aren't really there in the sky, we see people and landscapes in that element that dissolves into images that aren't really there. And this is the last artifice of the project: that strong, heavy and striking volume from afar, becomes light, dematerializing as it gets closer, until it ceases to be a barrier and becomes a mirror of people, of the surroundings, of ourselves.

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