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Drawing Discrepancy - Landscapes of Preservation

Part 1 Project 2012
Sayan Skandarajah
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, UK
"Drawing Discrepancy" is an exploration of the multiple acts of preservation, alteration and future proposal which become the realization and life of an existing public building. Architecture is understood as a "moving project" (Latour) rather than a static object. The project works from archival drawings of the City Chambers, formerly the Royal Exchange, in the centre of Edinburgh's Old Town, to construct a field to work in and a site for a design project. The existing building undergoes a vast topographical shift - 3 storeys to 11 storeys - and is built over the medieval fabric of Mary Kings Close, as well as a number of other 'lost' and buried closes.

A flattened picture of this complex terrain is built up of many building layouts, proposals and alterations to the building throughout its history from 1753 until 2012. Cartographic discrepancies which testify to multiple histories are discovered in the layered tracings and represent different ways of seeing the existing. The design project works between the lines, acknowledging inconsistencies and deviations between ach drawing/history: revealed structure, shifting boundaries, lost voids. De-laminations and re-tracings of the accumulated field establish a speculative language of defined corners, suspended and anchoring elements.

The project culminates in the articulation of three interconnected spaces that themselves act as modes of preservation and archive, and become another layer in the histories of proposals for this site. These are:

a) An horological landscape anchore to the street arcade, housing an obsolete clock mechanism that had belonged to the adjacent St Giles Cathedral for 190 years;

b) A new pedestrian route from the High Street to Cockburn Street, re-occupying the lost and buried fabric of Mary Kings Close.

c) A new archive of superseded plans of Edinburgh, inserted into the existing ground and first floor public spaces.

Sayan Skandarajah


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