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The Totality Archive

Part 2 Project 2001
Helen Woodcraft
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
Location:Situated in Prague, the project evolved as a series of rigorous analytical processes that progressively defined the site and subsequent moves within it. Each step gradually focused the occupation from the scale of of the city itself to the location of minute objects in the entirity, maintaining a consistent approach throughout.

Dis-location: The mapping machine was devised as an exploratory tool to establish a dialogue between the dense urban, military and ecclesiastical palimpsest of the ancient fortress of Vysehrad and the sedimentary islands in the river Vltava beneath.

Re-location: With the perimeter wall and contents extended into a single linear form, the orrery model and subsequent computer studies served to reconfigure this analysis in the context of the islands and riverbank.

Location-plus: The resultant artefact, combined with the archive of dense graphic marks generated by the mapping machine, formed the basis for an occupation of the site.

Occupation-orientation: The process created a proliferation of compelling qualities. The challenge at the outset of occupation was to retain the richness of the juxtaposed elements while formulating a cohesive editing in order that the intensity should not degenerate into confusion.

Occupation-organisation: Following the logic of the sequential processes, the planning of the space looked first to locations within the city. The technique devised permitted a translation of these relative positions to a compacted equivalency within the wall while also generating a basis of spatial organisation that allowed for the specificity of each zone but ensured a coherent approach throughout. Spatial freedom is therefore uncompromised yet the visitor comprehends a continuity to the whole.

Occupation-qualification: The spatial model was ultimately tested in one zone via a dense network of interconnecting walkways, platforms and pavilions which enabled specific artefacts to be located within the space.

Helen Woodcraft

This student's presentation is an extraordinary project for Vysehrad in Prague. Taking its legendary fortress as her starting point she developed a series of speculative unfoldings of the citadel walls out into the landscape of the city and river beyond. This process, which was elaborated using a kind of spirographic drawing machine devised for the purpose, produced a highly complex set of interweaving linear buildings set in a cloud of objects recovered from the fortress. The structure became a kind of calibrating device for Prague: through various techniques of architectural projection it collected and became marked by a close network of traces from the surrounding city.

The project was conceptualised as a 'total museum' for the Czech republic within which all the artefacts from all the national collections would be deposited. Thus the three 'unfoldings', from whose interplay the architecture of the structure derives, came to hold by turns: display space; archiving; and offices, administrative, and curatorial facilities.

The student's project presents in detail a design for a puppet museum which sits within the overall framework of the project. In evolving its architectural character she return to the scheme's initial methodology, but pushed it to a more extreme degree. This time, the entire assemblage was notionally folded in on itself to produce a compelling and highly complex architectural matrix within the interior of the structure. Next, reading the trajectory of the structure within the city against the geography of its museums and their collections, a sequence of 'fuzzy' programmatic zones inside the structure was defined. The puppet museum came to occupy one of these. The programme gave the student the opportunity to explore the exhilarating play of scales and spaces inherent in the architecture.

• Page Hits: 1074         • Entry Date: 14 September 2001         • Last Update: 14 September 2001