One of the jewels of contemporary architectural art, the Celestial Staircase, the Golden Spiral, and the City of Orien. It is located in the midst of the Marha plateau, between Goulmima and Erfoud. These are three massive sculptures created by Hanssjörg Voth, also known as the German by the locals.
In the midst of nowhere, over the course of more than two decades, the artist will create his most creative works, inspired by the celestial universe, in close partnership with local craftspeople. It’s a mysterious universe that’s difficult to get to, but well worth the effort.
Great works of humanity
The Celestial Staircase, built between 1980 and 1987, is the first sculpture in the series. It’s a massive triangle-shaped stairway that stands 16 m in height. There are 56 steps in the piece, and the side walls shorten gradually until they form a vertical hole at the top. As a result, the structure takes on the appearance of a celestial observatory, with its steps connecting the earth and the sky.
The German continues the concept by constructing the Golden Spiral, a second piece, between 1992 and 1997. It is a 260-meter stone ramp that starts from the ground and rises to a height of 6 meters, built according to Phi the Golden Number. It leads to the top of the spiral, where a hundred-step spiral staircase goes to the bottom of the well, the building’s center. When viewed from above, the Golden Spiral resembles a Nautilus shell, a symbol of geometric perfection.
The City of Orien, designed between 1998 and 2003, is the series’ final and unquestionably most iconic piece. Rectangular adobe towers, each representing the seven brightest stars in the constellation Orien. The work is a miniature projection of the constellation, which correctly captures the size, brightness, and placement of each star, with the same number of buildings as stars and the same proportionate dimensions. As a result, the city functions as an observatory, allowing people to track the movement of the stars. In addition, one of the tallest structures has steps that lead to a well.
A celestial appearance in the desert
Voth, a master of Land Art, was guided by his love of the celestial world in the creation of these monumental and poetic works by which he could have realized his dream of connecting the earth and the sky. The artist was also influenced by local customs and environment. The structures were all built according to local architectural principles, and they all had wells, symbols of survival in the desert.
Originally, the artist intended to exhibit his work in Spain. He took a trip to Morocco to rest after not being able to find appropriate land for his project. He found the limitless expanses of the Mahara plain during a 4X4 excursion in the region of Oasis Fezna and had a moment of clarity: here is the right location for his work! As a result, he settled in the area and created one of the most important works of Land Art there.