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An Archive for the City of Dubrovnik

Part 2 Project 2011
Thomas Cookson
Manchester School of Architecture Manchester UK
Before visiting Dubrovnik, tourists marvel at images of the city’s roofscape, and on arrival they mount the city wall and inhabit these photographs. Opposed to this casual acquaintance, you have the intimate localised condition, in amongst the alleys where the city’s occupants play out their daily lives. Between the two layers of roofscape and ground you can parallel photography and memory. Photography captures everything, with no importance placed on meaning; in opposition is memory, which is fragmentary and selective. My programme, therefore, aims to create an enclave for the personal and collective unconscious of the city, hidden from casual view.

Analysis of the city’s existing roofscape allowed me to create an idealised one for the site - a veil - concealing the localities memories, and healing a scar in the city’s canopy. This veil then returns to the site’s ruins, twisting as it does so, from the geometrical conflict between roof and ruin. Selection became a key generator for the scheme, transfiguring the archive typology from a dormant warehouse, into an animated memory processing factory. This allowed two themes to develop, those of retention and destruction. These manifest as the golden strongroom (retention) and the chimney (destruction). By appropriating key geometries from the ruins at ground level, I linked these two elements with visual connections.

Nietzsche states that contemporary mankind is defined by the antithesis between interior and exterior. Translating this idea into the architecture of Dubrovnik, the city’s habitual masonry and pantile presents a unified external language, revealing little about the city’s inhabitants. Little clues, however, occasionally offer a snapshot of an internal realm. For this reason, the golden strongroom and chimney penetrate through the veil. Therefore, the two principal poetic and programmatic elements of the scheme do bridge both the internal and external realms. This creates a moment whereby the casual onlooker - if interested enough - no longer simply inhabits the photographs, as the equilibrium is interrupted. Thereby internal and external, memory and photography, for a moment at least, are unified.

Thomas Cookson

Tutor(s)

2011
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