Lanzarote, Spain.

«A fence to Stop the Time»


Davide Fabio Colaci,
Lola Elisabetta Ottolini.

Politecico di Milano


Rosita Palladino,
Beatrice Carraro, Nicolò Buizza,
Gregorio Minelli, Alessandro Pasero, Pietro Rava,
Giada Zuan

«Other metaphors» is an experimental design studio class of the School of Architecture of Politecnico di Milano that aims to retrace the research Ettore Sottsass had accomplished at the beginning of the ’70s: «Space notes». Temporary architectures in the alien landscape of Lanzarote give birth, once again, to the question that tormented Ettore Sottsass: «What are the relationships between people, thoughts and the space they live in?» If the query is always the same, the answer can no longer be this.

Old rituals are still ringing in the primitive, volcanic land of Lanzarote. In ancient times, the indigenous manifested their sacred virtue by using the archetypes of the efquene and tagoror, ritual fences, placed around an idol as thresholds to access a magical and defended habitat.

Today, this ancient ritual’s memory allows reflections on the contemporary relationship between humans, time, and environment. The island’s region of mataburros, where the wind erodes these fragile whinstones, becomes ideal for expressing the project’s meaning. This land’s weakness is a metaphor for a condition to preserve, as an imminent future where the few natural resources will be too precious. The sacred fence closes around one of the whinstones, destined to disappear. A natural alcove created by the wind, protects an egg, a as a symbol of fertility, life, and eternal. Every sacred space has its ceremonies: all the devotees move in it as dancing, a cathartic circular choreography to be dared to meet God.

The holiness of this land was written and celebrated by the aboriginals who identified several ethereal scenes, observed through the centuries by poets, architects, and movie directors, who tried to encapsulate its beauty and drama in their art. Indeed the project aims to identify a new possible scenario for a rite to celebrate a more actual vision of the environment: ephemeral and fragile.

In «A Fence To Stop Time» space takes shape as a distant habitat, crossable by twelve trilithium, arranged with soft curtains. The wind that gives life and dynamism to the enclosure consumes and dissolves its idol. The fence is built by tracing a circle and divided into four parts, and each of it is in three sections (4x3, pic c.). Twelve symbolizes the recomposition of the primordial wholeness. In other terms, it represents the descent to earth of a cosmic model of thoroughness and harmony. The meaning of this number indicates the conclusion of a completed cycle; it is the symbol of the paramount initiatory test that allows to pass from an ordinary plane
to a higher, sacred one.
Globalization, new media, climate change, and the issues of our contemporary are overwriting the anthropological value of our existence, and therefore of our projects. «Other metaphors» is a challenge that accepts failure and does not pretend to give answers but wants to recover that time of reflection and criticism that especially new generations can intercept.