project type land art installation, thesis project
location Puertecito, New Mexico, USA
scope design and construction
completion date June 2003
The walls are part of the design for a passive solar house, sited within a remote desert landscape. Runoff from surrounding mountains has carved a deep arroyo through the center of the site, revealing a cliff wall with a rich strata of purple slate, yellow sulfur, and light green sands.
Across the arroyo, parallel to the distant cliff, we designed and built two massive earth walls using the ancient technique of rammed earth, which we adapted to fit our context. For this, we mined 220 tons of earth directly from the site and developed a system of hinged slip forms, which could be easily handled by two people.
As you enter the site, you catch glimpses of the walls between sparsely scattered Pinion trees. The walls block the view of the distant cliff. A gentle bend in each of the walls invites you to enter a narrow passage between them. When you reach the end of this long, canyon-like corridor you discover, for the first time, the striking view of the cliff in its desert landscape.