_Pey Keyo-Ixi |Burned Path| A House for No Place

Iroã Pinto
Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa Luís de Camoes

Project idea

Primitive et Exoticus – Pey Keyo-Ixi, A House for no Place
This thesis discusses and studies the actual contemporary meaning of the terms Primitive, and Exotic. At first, an extensive research is carried on to investigate the etymology of these terms, and its use over the years, discussing the implied classifications, and relating the ambiguities alongside the culture, cosmology and thinking of the main actors of this study, the Yanomami tribe. From an anthropological perspective of their presupposed exotism, and in an architectural approach, the presumed primitivism, of their effective constructions. This investigation intended to question these terms in a search of its actual meaning and adjective effectiveness in the contemporary days.
Both primitive and exotic can suggest distance, a look from above, a patronizing appreciation. One for being beautiful and different, the other for being fundamental and inspiring. Analyzing this dichotomy by a syllogistic approach, both would be connected. The exotism would be present in the primitive house because it doesn’t belong here. But if we rationalize these terms, in the same way the Yanomami people think about nature, all of us would be exotic and the primitive would be present in architecture, not as a mere example, but as part of it. The exotism of the being and the primitivism of the object would lose meaning when it could be projected in our own mirrors. In this condition, every architecture would have its own primitivism within its resources and social universe. The pertinent interest in looking thru this mirror would possibly enhance sensibility to contemporary approaches in architecture, not only adapting projects to its surroundings, but also for having a latent primitive essence. This research helped in the conception of this project.

Project description

Pey këyo ixi

“Il n’y a pas d’homme primitif; il y a des moyens primitifs, L’idée est constante,
en puissance dès le début.”

Le Corbusier, 1923.

For this project, Pey Këyo-Ixi, which translated from the Yanomami dialect means “burnt/black path”, the Shabono, the Yanomami house, is the reference for the concept. The exercise consisted of a “house for no place” where only 05 spaces had to be projected. No restrictions on how our society perceives a house. No creative restrains or cultural ties. No need for an open plan kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, an entrance hall, or a fancy bathroom. No need for pre-entitled spaces. This house consists of a single wall/roof plane of aligned tree trunks in a polycentric spiral line, built-in on a rammed earth pavement. This wall/roof plane revolves around itself creating a path. This project is a house, a pavilion, a church, a shelter, a path to the interior of an architectural and sensorial space, but also to the interior of those who experience it. Its spatiality exudes uniqueness, and enhances all senses, giving access to a journey to the interior of human nature. An exotic place, like no other. A space without a place, which has all the places. A house with no doors, but ways; no windows but openings/slits; no rooms but spaces; no compartments but a path. A burned path. A Pey Keyo-ixi.

Technical information

The reference, Shabono:
The indigenous house has a functional structure, composed of several vertical wooden elements that support a roof, a conical plane made of palm leaves. A simple plan solves the architecture of this communal house. There are no interior partitions. Just an open space. This circular roof/wall plane of the Shabono is the main inspiration for the project's concept. The vertical elements are the only structures and materials utilised. Circular trunks of wood built-in in rammed earth. A sustainable and simple approach that results in complex and interesting spaces.

The concept:
This circular palm leaves roof is broken and transformed into a wall/roof of consecutive vertical elements that revolve around itself, organized in a polycentric spiral line. These wooden elements can measure from 3 to 20 meters in length and around 25 centimetres in diameter. The shape of the project is conditioned by the spatiality of the interior spaces and the construction technology of the wooden trunks. It revolves around itself almost like the performances practised in the shamanic rituals of these people. Almost in an abstract form, and like the movements in their dances.

The Project:
The different angles of inclination and lengths result in a succession of spaces, some narrow, with a low ceiling as a connecting corridor, some wide, airy with a high ceiling referring to a spacious cathedral, all connected on a route, a path that ends in a central courtyard.