Building on the past : architectural design at archaeological sites

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Tyson, Erin Renée

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At archaeological sites around the world, architectural interventions utilizing distinctly modern materials and designs have provided solutions for protection from environmental impacts, control of visitors’ access to ruins and presentation of historic remains to the public. In various contexts, reliance on the modern has resulted in educational opportunities and emotional experiences for visitors that would not have been possible using traditional modes of reconstruction. The incorporation of in situ archaeological remains into a modern building often enhances the phenomenological potential of the ruins while sacrificing positivist presentations of them. Many European countries have seen different examples of creative applications of modern architecture for the presentation of excavated sites. My thesis focuses on several European prototypes of the modern architecture–archaeological remains hybrid type, surveying how contrast in materials and stylistic breaks between new and old enhance visitor’s experiences. The prevalence and promise of modern architectural design at archaeological sites calls for the clear identification of the emerging type in order to promote it as a bona fide option for meeting preservation challenges. The classification requires the intervention rely on distinctly modern materials and construction methods, offer a stark contrast between new and old fabric, enhance the archaeology and foster understanding of the remains. The prototype studies point to the following benefits of enveloping ruins in a modern structure: nontraditional materials often lead to less literal, more open-ended presentations that promote discovery, transparency and spanning potential provide a broad range of possibilities for protection and interpretation, a dialogue between past and present allows for creative expressions about temporal relationships, and the appearance of decay enhances the phenomenological impact of the site.




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