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A Treatise on Palimpsest

Part 2 Project 2022
Alexander Knowles
Queen's University Belfast | UK
The awkward beauty of old buildings has always intrigued me. I believe there is always something more to be made from their condition. Whether it be a slow and natural decay or a violent and abrupt end, their history and the marks they leave provide a storybook-like charm. They trigger something in us, something innate and almost primitive, offering a last line of defence in a world of standardisation and globalisation.

With mankind’s (re)-current need to always start afresh no longer sustainable, now is the time, as done in civilisations’ past, to look to our historic buildings
and imagine … ‘what if?’

Situated in the Estate of Mount Stewart, this project seeks to question what it is we value with regards to heritage. The design inverts the accepted normative idea of conservation, suggesting that the listed Main House should now become secondary to help conserve and support the working estate. Currently some of the estate’s stables and farm are in a state of disrepair. However, by recycling discarded structural elements from these and using them when reconfiguring the house, Mount Stewart House can now become a palimpsest of itself, with the history of the estate becoming legible across its construction.

Alexander Knowles

Jane Larmour
Keith McAllister
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