Shear House

Man with dark hair, mustache, and beard.
  • Seth Brayton, M.Arch. 2022
  • Hometown

    Brooklin, Maine
  • Class

    ARCH 5111 Core Design I: Nature Culture
  • Instructor

    Dasha Khapalova
    David Constanza

As a refuge for visiting artists and scientists, the Shear house encourages a deeper understanding of place, beyond the sensationally cratered surface of the Nevada test site towards a context of geologic time. The Nevada test site is a surreal and damaged wilderness 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, occupied by the U.S. Government from 1951 to 1992 it absorbed the detonation of more than 1,000 nuclear bombs. These below-grade explosions fractured the earth in a strangely similar manner to the tectonic plates that long ago defined the broader topography, and this shared process of shearing drove the architectural language of my project. The volume of the house is sheared by two primary views, one towards the Sedan crater, a second down the face of a protruding tectonic plate, organizing the interior of the house with the same human and geologic processes that define the landscape. And this interior shearing creates a third intermediary space as a studio/garden for research conducted on site. The house is meant to be a healing gesture, touching the ground lightly as a place of reckoning and peace; a small building lodged as ballast against an uncertain and wavering nuclear future in the heartland of a devastating nuclear past.

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