The Manual to Un-Archaeology | Athens, Greece | Unit 21 | 2019
Awarded Distinction for Design and Distinction for Thesis
This project explores an alternative heritage practice in the Ancient Agora of Athens, where the site is reactivated as a public space; restoring its original function but finding form in playful investigations of material and human agency. It seeks to re-assess the ways in which we engage with sites and objects that are deemed archaeology, by exploring the architectural mediation of archaeology and subverting the status on an archaeological site.
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I. Choreographing Decay
The site, like the city itself, is a palimpsest. The fragments of building and scars in the ground are a record of the processes and events that have taken place. I am interested in an architecture that speaks of its process; the quarry marks on the surface of Mount Penteli, the lifting bosses on the Parthenon blocks and the blackened patina on the ancient marble.
A series of casts were made to investigate the concept of decay. The process in which the casts are made can be read from the outcome; through the stratification of the materials and evidences of the pour. As the casts are made, the mold is moved around. The outcome of each cast is dictated by the material characteristics and the way they interact with each other: a combination of material and human agency. The casts became a way of testing
and sampling ideas related to preservation; such as replication and repair. Using removable materials such as wax with different melting temperatures, lines of weakness and decay can be designed and recast into new blocks.
This material response explores ruination and disintegration as culturally and architecturally productive
II. The Ground Condition
Metaphorically, the architecture is a substitute for the ground that the ancient archaeology is buried within. In conventional archaeological processes, documentation of the soil colour and structure is used to determine how it was formed. Within the architectural approach, the ground condition is translated into the composition of materiality. The method of creating the functional spaces is through subverting the process of excavation within archaeology the production of space. Conventional archaeological apparatus is developed to support the ruin as the ground datum is lowered, and the ruins are reinterpreted
III. Hierarchy of Material Language
Processes of ruination is based on the decay of matter, the exercising of agency from the material. Following on from the ideas of artificial and choreography of decay, the architecture of the project will utilise the lifespan of materials as a
design process. The primary elements of structure will use materials with longer lifespans, such as steel; whereas the less permanent elements will use ceramics and be designed to decay
IV. Digital and Analogue Feedback Loop
Processes of photogrammetry were used at various stages during the construction of the cast; this allowed for an archive of the construction development. This formed a feedback loop, where the analogue process translated into digital data. This data was used as a design tool, where the next stage of construction could be planned, with bespoke pieces that responded to the previous. This development process was based on the back and forth between digital and analogue, with the discrepancies and unpredictability of both processes in its translation altered the outcome. As part of the analysis, the surfaces were unrolled to reveal the voids within the cast and the investigation of the material texture.