UN IMMEUBLE MEUBLE / A MOVABLE IMMOVABLE | Marseille, France | Unit 21 | 2016
Awarded Distinction for Design & Distinction for Thesis
Awarded The Bartlett School of Architecture Medal
Approaches to conservation: Mutable values, fixed regulations
The 1964 Venice Charter extended the previous notion of the “historical monument” to include “not only great works of art but also to more modest works of the past which have acquired cultural significance with the passing of time.”
What is considered ‘heritage’, as well as the value of heritage itself is constantly evolving, however the “cultural significance” of these “modest works” in official documentation can be simultaneously indefinite and outdated. What validates something significant enough to preserve, for how long and how much of it?
Aerial photo 1926 vs. aerial photo 1944, with buildings of preservation highlighted.
“The building that moved”-the oldest surviving building in Marseille, the Hôtel de Cabre, was repositioned in 1953 to align with the new plan.
Conflicting notions of historical significance:
1953 Construction of the Centre Bourse
15th Century King René d’ Anjou Pavilion
L’ Atelier Nadar collapse
Architectural conservation principles, fundamentally based on changing ‘cultural values’, are translated and integrated into written urban planning policy, translated once more into physical built form; yet language itself is subject to cultural re-interpretation and manipulation by agents with particular agendas. This project explores the quirks and possibilities of applying such fixed regulations to built heritage at varying scales, celebrating subjective, yet valid, re-interpretation of the rules in the name of conservation. The accompanying thesis considers how the wording of heritage-led planning policies and changing understandings of certain conservation key terms influences urban form in historic city centres, where opposition between contemporary development and historic conservation is most apparently felt.
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Click to see booklet ->Heritage Taxonomy
Marseille, said to be “the only antique capital that doesn’t crush us with the monuments of its past”, has in its history been systematically demolished, re-planned and rebuilt. The destruction of the oldest part of the city, the Vieux Port quarter, during World War II was followed by a period of reconstruction which contained its own level of historic erasure. Now on a UNESCO Tentative List for its “cultural heritage of outstanding universal value”, the area consists mainly of 1950s and 1960s housing, with the exception of a handful of protected buildings from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, including Hôtel de Cabre – moved and rotated during the reconstruction to accommodate the widening of a main road.
The project draws from the existing Code du Patrimoine, observations of unofficial architectural preservation in Marseille and other methods of commemoration to create a Code for Marseille, modifying buildings along Marseille’s iconic Vieux Port to design a tourist information centre and boutique hotel accommodation (while maintaining their ‘cultural significance’). Principles are translated into algorithmic modelling tools, creating a rules-based design system to represent the non-negotiable and, at times, non-sensical application of certain policies in the name of conservation.
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