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detailing the curious

Part 2 Project 2002
Campbell Garratt
Paul Ely
Victoria University of Wellington Wellington New Zealand
Detailing the curious.

"...musing upon a great many things, when I arrested by an enquiry, the purport of which did not reach me, but which seemed to be addressed to myself, and was preferred in a soft sweet voice that struck me pleasantly." C. Dickens 'The Old Curiosity Shop'

This project investigates architecture existing with in the detail, it turns it's back on the monumental and the notion of architecture centralism. It explores a compendium of curiosities to present a proposition in it’s whole.

Where does this occur already? In the city. A place where all walks of life co-exist in patchwork, another such place is the curiosity shop (Second-hand store), a vessel for the collection and display of varying objects and curios from all histories. The curiosity shop is a un-categorized museum, a place of multiplicity where the serendipitous can occur.

Taking a leaf from the American abstract expressionist painter Richard Diebenkorn, a methodology was constructed utilizing drawings to record and document information from visits to curiosity shops and the site [162 Cuba St, Wellington, NZ]. The drawings over time developed layers of information that when viewed together disappeared into a whole. Multiple readings were derived from the drawings and transcribed into a formal language for the project.

The site, 162 Cuba St, Wellington, New Zealand. An existing building under re-development, allowed for a careful and detailed exploration. I was able to discover many of the building's hidden secrets and articulate them in the drawings.

Multiplicities of histories with in the site were then overlaid with a collection of characters [programs] allowing the process that i had observed to continue through with new inhabitation.

The drycleaner,
the lounge bar 'curio',
the panetteria/ bakery and cafe,
the shoe shiner,
the tailor,
the book binder,
and two apartments

The fluid mixing of programs denied firm spatial distinctions and rather, allowed for un staged interaction between the inhabitants- chance meetings and un-rehearsed performances.

An understanding of our surroundings can occur through the little peek, and that is what interests me not the containment of everything in one part.

"Campbell has put together a compendium of all he has learned - a 'curiosity shop' of ideas about architecture. Getting all those ideas to work successfully together is like creating a virtuoso piece for a violinist- a real exhibition of all his skill at the highest level." John McArthur, Department of Architecture, University of Queensland, Australia

Campbell Garratt
Paul Ely

This is a project concerned with the archaic, or more correctly the role of archaic technologies in a computerised world. Against the currency of digital technologies this student sort out the world of the recently archaeological in architectural representation; blunted pencils, ruled lines, mechanical machines, palimpsest surfaces.

With these old world technologies comes a domain of dirt and grime absent from architectural drawing since the adoption of the computer. But this is not simply an exercise in antiquated drawing. The rejection of the contemporary in this project allows the student to enter into a realm of architectural design similarly denounced by modern process. In deciding to infill in a historic precinct the student stated the paradox of new technologies to old problems. Here the smudged and smeared pencil surface encodes the work with the experience of a lived city. Each mistake is a record of events and memory that constructs a disciplinary parallel between the city and the drawing.

The result was a surprise even to the student. Unlike the other class projects that sought object focused ‘solutions’, this scheme uncovered an existing older architecture in much the same way an artist ‘uncovers’ sculpture in a block of stone. This project is from an older world, yet it also points the way to a newer one. This is why we choose this work.

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