The World is a Window | MArch Thesis

The World is a Window

Advisors Liam O'Brien, Joel Lamere, Alex Anmahian


"We were searching for ourselves in each other."
- Sergei Parajanov

Straddling the border between the continents of Europe and Asia, the South Caucasus, the name referring to the geographical region that stretches from the Black Sea to the Caspian has played an important role in connecting peoples. Traversed by a great chain of mountains rising to a height of 18,000 feet, it was used by merchants as the only way to reach the Middle East from Europe by land. Today, we know the South Caucasus as a collection of three nations: Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Former Soviet socialist republics, the three neighbors have been engrossed in conflict since the 1990s thereby ushering perpetual instability in the region.

But was there a time of mutual understanding?

Perhaps the answer could be found in the poetry and songs of Sayat Nova, an 18th-century Armenian ashough who wrote in the three major languages of the Caucasus: Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani. The poet provides us with the realization that the cultures of the Caucasus were once intertwined to an extent that is virtually a distant memory today. Sayat Nova would later become the central character in filmmaker Sergei Parajanov’s 1968 masterpiece ‘The Color of Pomegranates,’ a film which attempts to depict the poet’s life through a sequence of active tableaux. This thesis attempts to analyze and employ the formal techniques used by Parajanov, in order to create an architecture framing and framed around the poems and songs written by the famous ashough. Sited at the tripoint where the three countries meet, it aspires to serve as a point of convergence between the three neighboring nations of the South Caucasus. A place of retreat, contemplation, and celebration. To remember what once was and dream of what again could be.