This is one of those annoying situations, where I have a number of solutions for a problem that’s hard to define. Where do I excavate? How? How do I in the best way possible display the old ruins?
If excavating and treating the old ruins as objects I feel I have to be delicate in my way of treating them. To touch them or intervene would be to destroy what I am trying to display – on the other hand – creating an enclosed space where you can view only parts of a ruin means that I HAVE to touch them. Or does it? How can I close or even climatize a space around only a part of the ruin when I cannot touch it?
I think the answer must be to make an effort out of showing the delicacy of the touch. At the foundation where I am digging the building out, the surface of my excavation will obviously be touching the building and here I think I have to go for maximum contrast. White concrete against the old, weathered bricks, but what about when I get above ground level? I will enclose parts of the spaces with bricks, but should I leave a gap between the old wall and the new? should it be closed with glass and light flood along the old wall? how is this meeting done without cutting into the old ruin?
The question of the roof is the same. Obviously I can rest beams on the new walls that I build, but how can I seal the building towards the ruin? One answer could be that I don’t – I leave the building open, BUT that wouldn’t really create the sense of ‘displaying’ the building as an object in a museum.
Another option could be to simply close the building before touching the ruin. Build as closesly as possible and then have a pane of glass making it impossible to touch the displayed object – it’s art – you’re not allowed to touch it! But then again… part of the experience would be ruined if you could not run your hands along the old bricks… maybe the want to do so will be even stronger by having the glass, and once the guests exit my intervention and walk around the rest of the site they will be compelled to touch the walls in those places… It could be an option.
At Peter Zumthor’s treatment of the ruinsin chur a light, semi-transparent, translucent wooden building encloses the space around the ruins and you walk on walkways only touching down certain places where part of the programme appears in montres. You walk from building to building in alleyways similar to the walkway to an airplane. In Zumthor’s building you aren’t able to touch the buildings either, but you are seperated from them by space and being on a bridge – rather than glass. I think, however, that it could have a similar effect – and must certainly be tested.
If I do make such a space, I will have to take into account drainage in the bottom, removal of leaves, branches, trash, etcetera that might find it’s way to the bottom. One option could be to simply make it possible for staff to remove the glass panes and thusly be able to clean the gap. There could also be a net at the top, but I feel that such a device would ruin the idea of not touching this gap – it should be all about the pure light on the wall.