Frame; Only At This Time

By Jo Phillips

Le Corbusier in “Vers une architecture” wrote “architectural emotion exists when the work rings within us in tune with a universe whose laws we obey, recognize and respect. When certain harmonies have been attained, the work captures us. Architecture is a matter of ‘harmonies’”, it is a “pure creation” of the spirit.

What was taken literally in the past, the beauty of coincidences mean the ‘spirit of the place’ can be experienced by humans. The phenomenon that is witnessed is that of the harmonisation of culture, environment, society and traditions. In architecture, the designs of an infrastructure are counterpart to the environment or include the scenery in its foundations.

But where the mystique of the world is visible despite its rarities, what happens when it appears that Mother Earth and the elements of nature have curated itself to coincide with the man-made infrastructure instead?

The genius loci may seem too far-fetched for any city natives, but witnessing the magic where the natural and physical world coincide and experience the ‘spirit of the place’ may actually only be a flight away.

abu simbel

Abu Simbel Temple, Egypt.

Commemorating the dates of King Ramesses’s coronation and birthday, the sunrise on February 22nd and October 22nd, will through the temple doors penetrate sunbeams into the inner sanctuary and illuminate the four living gods, whilst the god of the underworld, Ptah, remains in darkness for all eternity.


Arc de Triomphe, France.

Twice a year, on the Champs-Elysées avenue, surrounding May 10th (+/- 2 days) and August 1st (+/- 2 days) will the sunset pass directly under the centre of the arc as if a fireball descending from the sky. Despite the architects’ intentions for the stone foundations of the monument to coincide with the solstices, the sunrise and sunsets on these dates are truly mesmerising coincidences.

ajanta caves

Ajanta Caves, India
30 caves reaching that are as tall as 76 meters, forming Buddhist temples that have been used as early as 2nd century BCE. Overlooking the Waghora River in the Aurangabad Jungle, as the sun rises on the summer solstice in cave 26, will the rays of the rising sun align with the statue of Buddha seated inside a stupa with his foot atop of a pedestal. Like certain Egyptian gods who are placed on pedestals too, as they are considered to no longer have a corporeal form on earth, the statues can exist a symbolism of these gods’ heavenly presence as the sun rays adorn them and their temples.

Chichén Itzá, New Mexico.

Following the traditional concept of the genius loci. The sacred ancient Maya Temple of Kukulcan or El Castillo, on the days of the vernal and autumnal equinox will the snake descend. The architectures and builders demonstrated their superior knowledge as they constructed the temple in accordance to the Mayan calendar. As the sunlight covers the balustrade of the castle pyramid, the overcast shadows stairways imitate a 120 foot long snake that appears to creep downwards towards the bottom where it will meet the serpents head at the bottom.

choco hills

Chocolate Hills, Philippines.

There are an estimated 1,268 to 1776 cone-shaped hills, spreading over 50 square kilometres, elevating from 100 to 500 metres above sea levels and varying in height from 30 to 120 metres tall. Only do the mysterious limestone hills where grass has grown over and when they wither during the dry season from November to May, will then the hills change in colour to resemble giant Hershey chocolate kisses.

Modo – Jindo Island, South Korea.

Experiencing a genius loci cannot get more phenomenal than this. Otherwise known as the ‘Jindo miracle sea parting’, will the sea just do that. Roughly twice a year between April – June, with no estimated dates and depending on the on tidal harmonics of the year, will the sea part in two and reveal a 2.9km path from Jindo Island to Modo Island. An annual festival is held for 4-days each year to witness a wonder comparable to a modern-day Moses miracle.

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