Contemplating the Horizon

The artist and architect Nuno Pimenta explores the island condition through his project Two Manifolds

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The Azores archipelago is largely characterized by a continuous search for new horizons, motivated by economic need, but also by the desire to move beyond the island’s borders. In his project, Two Manifolds, the architect and artist Nuno Pimenta (Oporto, 1985) reflects on the duality that characterizes the island condition: the need to leave and explore beyond its confines and, at the same time, the desire to stay.

Two Manifolds is a two-level lookout located in Santa Clara, a district on the outskirts of Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel Island; something like the periphery of the periphery. The upper level – built with Japanese red cedar (Cryptomeria), a material that is easy to dismantle – is designed to encourage visitors to observe their surroundings and reflect. The lower level, formed by solid cement benches, invites visitors to rest, to linger. This difference in materials is intended to highlight a temporal state over permanence.

There is also significance for the author in the orientations of each of the three boxes that make up the upper level of the overlook. The first box, at the entrance, points toward Santa Clara and invites residents to contemplate their surroundings. The second directs our eyes directly out to sea, past the port of Ponta Delgada, a point of entry and exit to the island. Finally, the third box invites us to look in the opposite direction, toward Europe. For Nuno Pimenta, it is a way of reminding us of the region’s political and geographical situation while, at the same time, challenging us to expand this ultra-marginal vision using our own eyes.

 Ponta Delgada, São Miguel Island, Azores

Main image copyright: ©Rui Soares

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