Innisfree Architectural Competition Entry by NJBA A+U
THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE William Butler Yeats, 1892
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Somewhere between the city and Innisfree the poem exists as a portal to that other life, a life lived simply, a life experienced in innocence at one with the earth, alone. It suggests that the poet dreams of a self sufficient existence, sustained by beans and honey. This project cannot wholly answer all of this. In all conscience we cannot truly build a small cabin of clay and wattles. Instead a portal has been created. Like the valley temples along the Nile we have prepared a structure to accept the arriving visitor. As a portal it receives the visitor preparing for their landing as well as being the point from which the visitor leaves.
We have calculated that this is the most minimal point of interference where you can hear “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore”. The structure is a simple timber frame on steel piles. The roof consists of a suspension system using steel wire and sail cloth (for both weathering and structure). Beneath this translucent roof an inner cloak of raw linen is draped. This later element is inspired by the reference to an “evening full of the linnet’s wings”. The Linnet is so named because of its link to the eating of flax seeds. The shape of the portal roof is wing like. Underneath the translucent roof are two boardwalks that take the visitor on and off the island to the waiting boat. Floating lightly above the waves the whole structure can be easily removed leaving the island untouched. (from original competition report)
This approach is antithetical to the creation for a folly like architecture for the purposes of the competition. Instead it sough to get out of the way, providing a portal, a gateway though which the visitor passes form the outside world to that sacred world of the mind on the island to which the poet seeks refuge.