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Mnemonic Landscape

Part 2 Project 2013
Barry O'Shea
University College Cork, Ireland
Mnemonic Landscape imagines a near future scenario whereby a reformed Italian State confiscates Vatican assets and the contents of the Vatican Secret Archives owing to corruption and questionable practices beginning with the Lateran Treaty [1929] and the wilful acceptance of ‘Mussolini’s Millions’. Situated on the post-industrial landscape of Rome’s San Lorenzo rail yards and site of the Peroni brewery - [Rome’s first allied bombing target], the design engages studies surrounding the phenomenological aspects of erasure, fragmentation and trauma, the ‘atrophy of experience’ {Aldo Rossi} inflicted upon ‘place’ over a period of history. The project morphology becomes situated between ground space and aerial space. Early design investigations establish new indexicalities, describing multiple layers of sectional inhabitation, charting site blast patterns from the Allies aerial raid and the flight path trajectory of the B17 Bomber and imagining an intra-textual network of geometries and intersections between.

Relocated archive material and seized assets support program [Archiving, Mediating & Reparation] and generates site processes in the form of multiple landscape cuts, instigating building process and form. Landscape is tooled archaeological like, revealing contaminated layers and spoil whereby the site becomes recoded by the histories [artefacts] written into it and the active process of removal of processed waste soil. The project aims to augment the relationship between the Vatican and Rome and critiques the balance of power characterizing the Roman social, economic and built landscape. The projects formal arrangement was conceived through extensive remaking and redrawing of ground, blast patterns, junctions, layers and fragments of site prompting new forms and structures.

Landscape is conceived as mnemonic device where established trajectories and data are scored on the field [route and program], where a reconstruction of migrating, observed fragments and functions are reborn from chaos - evoked by Ruben’s, Anamorphosis of Venus and Adonis. The programmatic proposition imagines the potential for growth and mnemonic value of the landscape reminiscent of The Mind Palace or Method of Loci, an ancient Roman mnemonic device, wherein items that need to be memorized are pinned to a visual cue and strung together into a situated narrative, a journey through a space.

Barry O'Shea


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