The Big Dig

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The Big Dig

| architecture, built environment, Landscape Architecture, Sculpture | July 15, 2011

The Big Dig by Topotek1, at the Xi’an International Horticultural Expo. All Photos: Geng Wang

You were seven, it was summer, and you were bored to tears. Somehow you got the idea in your head that you could dig a tunnel to China. You grab a spade or shovel (of hard plastic) and begin to dig. You’re determined, and nothing—not the limitations of your physical strength, hunger, networks of piping, dangerous levels of air pressure, lack of oxygen, the earth’s molten core, or, if you managed to get past all that, the fact that you’d end up in the middle of the Indian Ocean and should have started in Argentina—will keep you from digging. But after 30 minutes, but what seems like hours, night fall or dinner time precludes the conclusion of your journey.

A thin glass barrier encircles the hole and prevents the visitor from falling into the abyss and, presumably, ending up in an unknown land.

The Big Dig” is designed as the emerging point of your trans-national travel. More than a hole in a two dimensional surface, the installation is a suctioned chasm, where space is curved and stressed. Existing site features, such as nearby trees, were untouched, reinforcing the conceit that you’ve just surfaced into an arcadian garden. A discrete audio system plays recorded sounds from the other side of the world—“cows from the pampas of Argentinas, commuters rushing among transit through New York City, the maritime life of Stockholm, and layers of history so audible among the streets of Berlin”—transporting visitors far from China to Western Europe or South America.

Topotek1’s installation at the 2011 Xi’an International Horticultural Exposition presents the question, “what if we did dig a tunnel to the other side of the world.”

Source: Architizer Blog

About the author

Drawing upon original ideas and extensive personal and professional experience in the field, David McFadden crafted this article to explore the untapped potential of making historic architectural masterpieces more sustainable. After working at various design practices—both full-time and freelance—and launching his design firm, David identified a significant gap in the industry. In 1984, he founded Consulting For Architects Inc. Careers, an expansive hub designed to align architects with hiring firms for mutual benefit. This platform enables architects to find impactful design work and frees hiring firms from the time-consuming cycles of recruitment and layoffs. David’s innovative approach to employer-employee relations has brought much-needed flexibility and adaptation to the industry. As the Founder and CEO, David has successfully guided his clients and staff through the challenges of four recessions—the early ’80s, early ’90s, early 2000s, the Great Recession, the pandemic, and the current slowdown due to inflation and high-interest rates.

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