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This thesis is concerned with the moments, places, and circumstances in which the great magnitude of the world is felt. I live within the vast space of the spherical earth and the infinite space of the universe, however, it is rare that I consider the immensity of this space in which I live and endeavor to build. This thesis is an examination of the ability of both architecture and landscape to frame immense space and phenomena of the earth, reinforcing our relationship with the larger space that we inhabit. This work is rooted in two accounts of immensity: The first is a landscape, a beach on the small Danish island of Rømø, where I stood on a vast, flat plane, surrounded by the seemingly limitless extension of space. The second is an architectural space, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg in Northern Denmark by Finnish Architect Alvar Aalto. There I stood in an interior that framed an experience of immensity unnoticed from the exterior. The beach was for me a rare and profound experience of immense space, and the museum an architectural examination of immensity mediated by mass and interiority. I weigh these personal accounts against immensity portrayed in art, architecture, fiction, and philosophy. I consider paintings by German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, an Infinity Environment installation by contemporary artist Doug Wheeler, and the documentation of sand-filled homes in Namibia by contemporary photographers Yû Ogata and Ichirô Ogata Ono. I examine the portrayal of immensity in Michael Ondaatje’s novel The English Patient and Karen Blixen’s short story Babette’s Feast and consider how immensity is manifest in space, people, and architecture in the writing of philosophers and theorists Dom Hans Van der Laan, Emmanuel Levinas, and Otto Friedrich Bollnow. Lastly, I consider the role that architecture plays in framing immensity by analyzing Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg and Grundtvig Church in Copenhagen by Danish architect Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint alongside Henry Plummer’s writing on the Salk Institute and Kimbell Art Museum by American architect Louis Kahn.
Cite this work
Sonja Storey-Fleming (2014). Immensity. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/8152