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Traces and Edges

Part 2 Project 2007
Matthew Phillips
London Metropolitan University, UK
Held hostage through myths and fables of ancient civilisation, Athens, a city of migrants, is no longer connected with antiquity. Bereft of symbols, of points of reference, it is here in modern Athens Northern suburbs that traces of the ancient ruins of Plato’s Academy are to be found. Unearthed through excavation and expropriation, fragments of a Palaestra rest ‘surgically’ detached within a vacant city block.

The creation of new edges, both monumental and domestic, built up around the ruin counters current practice of removal and excavation to reconcile history. An ‘urban room’ carved from a reinstated city block constructs the lost physicality, the totality of the few ancient stones. A resting place for the remnants of antiquity and a quiet refuge from the chaos of the city, the approach, both generic and specific is a framework for other ubiquitous sites, which have been excavated and expropriated...

Matthew Phillips

For a number of years, the unit -which has developed into a full design research unit- has nurtured a series of projects centered on places with historical meaning or particular physical settings. Projects are meant to formulate a clear thesis within the boundaries of a ‘culturally’ demanding landscape. Matt has produced a concise and contemporary response to an ancient site imbued with ‘historic’ meaning of the first order. His project takes the clear position to continue the contemporary city while re-evaluating or creating a context to the ‘rubble of the past’. The project examines the position of the individual in the city or any city that attempts to reconcile the past with the present. It is at once singular and universal as the strategy can be extended to a number of similar sites in Greece and beyond.

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