The interior of the four-story building that supports the domes of the former Cold War listening station on the Devil’s Mountain in Berlin is accessible only through two (new) exterior stairwells. Each has a long corridor (without any doors!), and open spaces separated by walls.
Most of the walls are decorated with the most wonderful graffiti in bright colors.
The entire building has become a piece of art.
Views through the ‘windows’ show more building-sized graffitis.
So in a miraculous way, one of the most secretive and locked up places from Cold War Berlin has become an organic landscape of open art.
If only we all could deal with our own borders like this.
So off I went for an overnighter in the backcountry. My route is above, clockwise, about 12 miles, which one could do in a day, but maybe not with taking as many photos as I did … Here is a first layer.
While there are stream crossings, there is no pumpable water, neither at the campground, nor in the wilderness. For me, that meant carrying 4 liters of water, barely enough for two days.
What struck me first was the lush greenness of this region. Where did all the arid rock formations go?
Then there are no trails. What sometimes looks like trails are bison tracks. More about them in a later post.
Now I have reached the north fork of Sage Creek, which I didn’t dare to cross. Sinking in ankle deep is ok, but not knee deep without guarantee that it ends there.
So instead I followed the middle fork for a while, crossed when it looked reasonable, and continued east. The landscape underwent some changes soon.
It’s is very tempting to keep going beyond exhaustion. Don’t. Use map, compass, GPS, and set goals. Easy to say.
Pitching a tent early gives shelter in the scorching sun and allows to enjoy the sunset. Finding a good spot for a tent in this vast emptiness was surprisingly difficult. I wanted to avoid wind, bison tracks, mud, and tall grass.
The next morning looked a bit gloomy, but I didn’t get any rain.
Time to return. Isolated trees are ideal landmarks, as the bisons obviously know, too. Tomorrow we’ll get the second layer.
These are also obvious architectural design patterns whose lack or presence in a building we much more easily perceive than their lack or presence in ourselves.
Windows offer a protected view, the exchange between inside and outside is virtual, and, like at the Window Trail, there is no safe way to step outside.
The Door is an entirely different story. And what Alexander writes about doors is valid also for our personal doors: Placing the main entrance is perhaps the single most important step you take during the evolution of a building plan.
On the map, the Door trail looks even shorter than the really very short Window trail, but the former does allow us to step outside into a vast landscape.
We instantly encounter unfamiliar heights, dangers, and the fear of getting lost.
So why should we step outside? What are the benefits of an encounter with the undesigned?
In essence, I think, this is a form of survival instinct. Life needs protection but doesn’t like confinement.