Energy and Matter: The design of a nature centre, tunnel, and neutrino observatory
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Neutrino physics proposes radical new conceptions of matter. Contemplating the extraordinary and mysterious nature of neutrinos in architectural terms, Energy and Matter considers the ideas and implications of this exciting field in three inter-linked design proposals—a nature centre, access tunnel, and neutrino observatory—that connect multiple disciplines in the natural sciences, engineering, and architectural theory. Located in the mountains above Modane, France, the nature centre is conceived as the outward expression of the neutrino observatory that is buried deep within the western Alps. Working from a position that acknowledges the significance of technical concerns, this thesis proposes an architecture that readily engages with technology, construction, and building systems, as well as the specialized instruments used to detect neutrinos, while exploring and evoking the equivalence and fluidity of energy and matter, form and forces. This hybrid approach expands the narrow functionalism that characterizes the design of modern observatories, and reasserts architecture’s role in the design of buildings for science, allowing these enormous collective projects to communicate their cultural significance as manifestations of our current understanding of the universe.