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Architecture of Archaeology

Part 2 Project 2002
Marco Travaglini
Sally Pearce
University of Toronto Toronto Canada
The topic of my thesis investigates the implicit and explicit relationships between architecture and archaeology. The thesis attempts to weave the process of these two disciplines. On the surface, the two disciplines are reciprocal, one constructs while the other takes apart. Implicitly, there is a quality of archaeology that the thesis relates to architecture. The thesis integrates architecture with the uncertainty of the archaeological iteration. As the process of archaeology is about the changing hypothesis, the process of architecture is about the changing building. As the process of archaeology changes in an unpredictable way according to new artifacts, the process of architecture changes according to new programs. Fundamentally, my thesis proposes an iterative process of change in architecture based on the process of archaeology.

The architecture of archaeology is full of paradox. Two disciplines that one can consider diametric opposites merge to yield an inextricable link between taking apart and putting together. The science of archaeology partially defers to the mystery of the unknown. The architecture reflects and reciprocates this. Architecture, which typically entails planning and construction, now provides a system whose final construction is dependent upon hidden preexisting constructions. The overlap between two programs and the final iteration of the built site remain unknowns.

Marco Travaglini
Sally Pearce


Marco’s thesis tackles the problem of change in architecture. It devises a system of design and construction that would dynamically accommodate for indeterminacy and change in conception, execution and inhabitation.

Marco’s building is a unique institution with a built-in mechanism for transformation. It serves initially as a support facility for an archeological dig but gradually evolves into a monastery and a secular retreat/spa.

Archeology generates the programme and serves as a conceptual model for this transformative process. Much like archeological research, the building process is initiated with a set of conjectures and a trajectory that is incrementally adjusted to emerging data. The building accordingly adapts to changes in context and exploits unforeseen opportunities.

Marco has designed a building process, or system, rather than a fixed and determined structure. The system allows for great architectural precision and control at the small scale without necessitating a premature determination of the larger site moves. These are left to develop gradually over time as the institution slowly acquires its mature configuration.

This archeology-inspired speculation on open-ended design—a kind of archeology in reverse--makes a significant contribution to the field of architecture where conventional tools and modes of representation are ill suited to the dynamic processes of inhabitation.

2002
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