PARADISE

February 9, 2010
Asia Pyramid gates
Asia Pyramid, Roger Dean, 1983 (source)

 

Roger Dean is best known for producing the album art for 1970s rock band Yes (and 1980’s group, Asia, pictured above). The album covers depict floating landscapes and organic cityscapes perfectly synced to the visual culture of that period. While the artworks read as ethereal visions of alien worlds, Dean asserts that ‘fantastic as they may look, these are architectural drawings of structures that can be built’. And they have been built.

 

What started as a furniture design project in college eventually transitioned into what Dean calls the Home for Life. It is a womb-like series of rooms, designed on the principle that in order to feel comfortable one must feel safe: hidden, enclosed, with a view out. The pods are pneumatically formed concrete shells, which Dean suggests ‘can be arranged in clusters to form houses, flats, hotels, office towers, or multi-million pound entertainment centers’. While he has yet to convince a developer to shell over the millions of pounds necessary for an entertainment center, Dean does have two urban-scale residential projects in the planning stages in the North of England under the name of Willowater: an environmentally sustainable and psychologically energizing community.

 

While I will not comment on the merits of Dean’s architectural process or design philosophies (I was born a few decades too late), I do hold a great deal of admiration for any man that is able to effectively recreate his paradise on earth.

 

E. Sean Bailey

 

Brief Garden, Bevis Bawa, Sri Lanka

 

Paradise is a timeless space of idealized delights. It is a concept that exists cross-culturally addressing either the origins of the universe or the destiny of humanity. In certain instances the idea encapsulates both. When defining a destiny, paradise is imagined as place inhabited by the virtuous dead: Buddhism’s Deva Worlds, Ancient Egypt’s Aaru with its bountiful reed fields and abundance of creatures to hunt and fish, the Celtic Isle of Mag Mell and the Elysian Fields of the Ancient Greeks to name a few. In Abrahamic religions paradise is an archetype that has its roots in the Garden of Eden. The many iterations of paradise may take on lush, often vegetative forms ranging from the pastoral to the exotic, varyingly walled, unwalled, cultivated, and uncultivated.

 

While paradisiacal notions have served to inspire sumptuous architectural proposals such as the grounds of Seville’s Royal Alcazar, Florence’s Boboli Gardens, and Geoffery Bawa’s Lunuganga, paradise itself is unattainable here on earth.

 

Erandi de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

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