Recontextualizing Landscapes of Power and Memory in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Our memory crisis seems to be based on our need to establish counter-memories, resisting the dominant coding of images and representations and recovering differences that official memory has erased (Boyer 1994, 28)
Rhetorical landscapes of the city consist of deliberately arranged ensembles of monumental spaces and mnemonic structures, emblematic of power and memory. However, the memory narrative they tell is constructed through selective erasure and replacement of aspects of the past. Variations of such narratives are evident in the urban layers of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, since the beginning of its modern history. Every change in the ideology of the state was accompanied by an identity crisis resulting in rewriting the historical narrative of the city through the reconstruction of its rhetorical landscapes. Informed by recontextualizing the multiple erased temporalities of the site, this thesis proposes an architectural framework that suggests alternative memory narratives generated through personal engagement and multiple readings - countering the official, univocal version of history. This thesis treats the site as a palimpsest, a multi-layered text - criticizing the tabula rasa or the clean slate approach taken by the state.
By depicting the site as a palimpsest, a multi-layered text, this thesis aims to achieve simultaneity of multiple suppressed temporalities. The design deploys metaphoric oppositions to the original intent of the reimagined landmarks from different architectural strata and suggests alternative memory narratives unfolded through multiple readings, countering the univocal, official version of the history.
The extracted former elements are defamiliarized through deconstruction and recontextualization of their forms and meanings in relation to the ideologies they were built to support. The design decisions were made with several rules in mind: the new meanings of the elements need to oppose the original design intents of the original landmarks; the new design has to reflect on the erased differences or traditions without any revivalist intentions; the new elements have to express simultaneity of different contents. While these simultaneities are inherent in the design in spatial terms, they are not evident at once. The design requires multiple engagements with the same elements, from different paths or points of view, in order to unfold these simultaneities.
This thesis aims to achieve conceptual simultaneity through formal organization informed by superpositioning historical layers and recontextualization of the landmarks extracted from them. At the urban scale, palimpsestic approach to the site counters the tabula rasa approach of the state. At the architectural scale, the design of the elements deploys metaphoric oppositions to the original intents of the reimagined landmarks through the deconstruction of their form and meanings. Approaches to both urban and architectural form, question the dominant coding of images of rhetorical landscapes that tell the official version of the historical narrative. Instead of prescribing a singular reading, it gives the participants freedom of interpretation of the past through repeated engagements. Like the palimpsest that catalyzes the design, the narrative it tells is multi-layered and accumulated through the sedimentation of multiple meanings.
Exploded axonometric of the temporal layers of the site: Realized (right) and proposed (left)
Site strategy From the bottom: The palimpsest - resultant from superpostioning the layers of the site (both realized and proposed); area of the park informed by latest reconstruction plan that is now being realized; Finally, the extracted components - landmarks from various layers of the site.
Landmarks from various layers; monuments and counter-monuments
Exploded axonometric of the design
Exploded axonometric, Detail 1; from right to left: the archive, the bridge, the gate
Exploded axonometric, Detail 2; from right to left: the minaret, the amphitheatre, the plantings, the housing
Landmark #1: Archive; a photograph of the model from the archive depicting the contrasting structures
Abstraction of a traditional form (muqarnas) into a precast facade element in the Metro Administration building; response to abstraction: reverse-abstraction - reintroduction of the function to the form.
View from the Archive into the park
Elements #2-3: The Bridge and The Gate; plan and sections
View from the bridge
Different readings of the bridge: From the base of the staircase, suggesting transcendence (top-left); Arriving at the landing - interrupted bridge - speaking to the idea of a canal as a boundary between two municipalities in the 19th century (top-right); The bridge as a bridge, read from the raised walkway (bottom-left); Beneath the bridge, access to the gallery connecting the bridge and the gate (bottom-right).
Abstraction of the gate form
Readings of the gate from the two different paths: the avenue (left), the raised pathway (right)
Layers of the gate
Elements #4-5: The Minaret and The Amphitheatre. An axonometric drawing depicting the false visual cues
The minaret: plan, section, and a detail section
Readings of the minaret: from exterior and from the camera obscura core
Layers of the minaret and the view of the minaret from one of the openings on the inhabitable wall
The amphitheatre: plan and section
Arriving at the stage - accidental spectacle (left) inversion of form - from a raised pedestal to a sunken amphitheatre (right)
Sectional model of the amphitheatre
Situating the wall in 2014 map (left) Openings along the construction wall (top-right) Translation of the wall into an inhabitable wall (bottom-right)
Reading of the element #6 The inhabitable wall over time; the material of the facade - copper resembles the colour of the construction wall as it weathers, recalling the images of the past
Research and Project Lead: James Forren Research assistants: Aziza Asatkhojaeva, Liam Guitard, Ryan Vandervliet
Photos by Kevin M.
Urban Curtain is a free-standing structure consisting of undulating concrete panels cast using a single dynamic and reciprocal mould. The structure consists of two identical “curtains” with an opening in the middle. The structure can function as a screen to provide shade or as a divide between spaces.
Axonometric, plan and elevation
Urban Curtain Sections through the straight and angled parts of the curtains
Research and project team: James Forren Research assistants: Aziza Asatkhojaeva, Liam Guitard, Ryan Vandervliet
The research explores the idea of casting various complex forms using a single mold. The mold is reusable and reconfigurable, addressing the wasteful use of material and energy spent on formworks used to cast complex shapes. Additionally, the form is reciprocal, meaning that it can be used to cast multiple blocks at once, conserving time and labour. The mold is made of out wood, elastomer and conventional metal hardware. The variable curvature of the panels are defined by the elastomer sheets, while the precision of the fixed dimensions of the panels are achieved through wooden components.
Technical drawing of the mould and its components
Making of the elastomer sheets
Perception of the Lowlands
While dykes may represent security for the coastal villages in Friesland, they also can be regarded as obstructions and compromise with the natural horizon. On the other hand, dykes are preferred points of observation to view the flat Dutch lowlands. This project regards the points where the roads perpendicular the sea dyke meet the dyke as an opportunity to establish both physical and visual connection between the coastal villages and the hinterlands of the Wadden Sea.
This project proposes a series of pavilions in the hinterlands that are accessed through the connection points of the roads and the dyke, activating the otherwise bare mudflats. From the connection points, the roads continue as walking paths on the old failed dykes, establishing a temporal connection between the current and the old.
The programs of the pavilions change depending on their proximity to the dyke. Pavilions include a series of observation towers that act as counter towers to the village church towers, achieving a visual connection between the villages and the hinterlands, as well as between the pavilions. The observation platforms shift in height in order to achieve optimal views of particular subjects (i.e. birds, people, villages, water, sky, etc.).
The counter towers: the church tower vs the proposed towers and the visual connection
High vs low horizon - layers
High vs low horizon - events
The coastal villages
View from the tower
Approaching the water pavilion
The water pavilion; high vs low tide
Approaching the sauna
The sauna tower above a dobbe (plan and section)
View across the sauna
Views from the sauna
Bath House - Halifax Waterfront
This bathhouse derives its main idea from two contrasting states of activity: movement and repose. North American port grain elevators acted as a precedent, where grain is moved through light, elevated conveyors, and stored in heavy concrete bins. Similarly, this building is a juxtaposition of two different structural languages. The movement state, where thermal mass is not that important, is expressed in light steel structure, clad with metal - perforated at times, to allow for visual connection between inside and outside. The state of repose, where thermal qualities are crucial, is contained in heavy concrete cylinders. Through the intermediate spaces between cylinders run the mechanical systems of the bathing sequence.
One of the social challenges of this project is the foreignness of the program within the fabric and for the culture of the city. Therefore the exterior of the building and the first impression play a significant role in introducing the program. The series of renderings illustrate different moments of curiosity the building presents, and explores its role in the city’s “scenography.”
Views towards the bathhouse
Inhabited section drawing of the bathhouse
Levels of transparency / privacy expressed in the facade
Sections through the restaurant
Team: Aziza Asat, Courtney Ho Instructor: James Forren
In this project, the tooling design process is an exploration of perforated concrete and its engagement with water. There are two characteristics we wish to explore: directing water and funneling water. Directing water may vary in form and pattern, but utilizes path to guide water to designated areas or locations. Funnelling, on the other hand, is tubular and involves the process of channeling fluids through a route or unit; directionality and orientation of the funnel may inform where water may be routed to. The design process will be an exploration of how these two features may act synchronously or asynchronously to maximize the distribution of water and alleviate it from a concrete panel.
The research in this design is partly informed by our studies of draining mechanisms within water systems in the Netherlands. The potential application of the panel is thought as a canal lining that feeds the groundwater, preventing the peat soil from subsiding.
The conical form is not only directive of water, but is structurally embedded into the ground to allow for an easy draining process. A consideration in the process was how the conical forms may project outwards from the panel, allowing for more surface area to mitigate water drainage at a slower-pace; though, it could potentially be less structurally-sound in the ground because there is more surface area that could potentially invite movement and slippage.
The designed panel could potentially be applied as an architecture screen, in which a panel may mitigate water from reaching the interior. At the same time, this exploration proposes the integration of water with concrete panels. Could this prototyped concrete panel invite water as a part of the architectural design and connect people to the sensory experiences of rain in a sheltered context?
The fabrication of the panel involves 3 step process:
The form of the panel (positive) is created by layering lasercut boards.
A formwork around the positive is built to be used to cast the elastomer mould (negative)
The elastomer mould is used to cast the concrete panel.
Lap Twist Knot
Project Leader: James Forren
Team: Aziza Asatkhojaeva Liam Guitard Amber Kilborn Ryan Vandervliet
Making of the 1:1 prototype (Participants: Aziza Asatkhojeave, James Forren, Liam Guitard, Ryan Vandervliet)
Quinpool Road School
The school’s site - an empty lot functioned as a shortcut that connected the private realm of Windsor street to the public programs of Quinpool street. These informal pathways were kept in the design of the school, encouraging the connectivity of different programs. The diagonal connections are carried through on the upper levels as well in the form of bridges. The lot is treated as an urban block, therefore the structures occupy the periphery of the lot. The structures are connected on the upper levels. However, the ground floor is kept permeable, allowing for the public to pass through the courtyards of the site, interacting with the users.
The idea of connectivity is strengthened by connecting the school to the nursing home located in the north-west of the site. The programs are carefully distributed with the users in mind (public, elderly, elementary students, junior-high students, employees). Certain facilities are open for all age groups, allowing for intergenerational learning.
Folded Metal Furniture (Atelier RZLBD)
A series of custom furniture designed for a client to compliment the client’s painting collection.