The final stretch

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Yesterday I had my mid-critique and I really feel that I am now on the final straight. The direction has been laid and the devil is now in the details. I was very surprised especially by the conclusion made by the teachers that I should focus on my one final drawing and make that the thing that explains the project. No model, no nothing. However since it is very much a landscape project I think that there is a point to explaining it in this way. The spatial qualities however, are hard to catch in such a drawing, so I feel that for the two main spaces I need to either make precise perspective drawings or models to get more into detail. That said this project is really more about the larger scale. About framing the ruin itself in the simplest possible way and in the right places.

I had a discussion with Anders about how my main problem since the time I figured out that the project is about excavation has been – where and how to dig and how to move between the excavations. I have been through excavating the entire tower and using it as more or less a column in an atrium space, a completely abstract placing of frames facing north-south and placed seemingly at random to underline the abstract concept of excavating. The first real breakthrough came with going back to the site and then starting to work in a large plan drawing. It became clear that the excavations had to be based not on some arbitrary abstract system, but rather on real situations on the site that I wanted to exhibit. Some small, some large details that one would never normally get to see. Framing views, seeing foundations, etc. When I first started drawing the large plan, I took offset in the plans of Enric Miralles, specifically his cemetary in Igualada. It was an old gravel pit, where the landscape and the movement through the artificial valley became central and all the spaces and the graves placed into the hillside become part of one big landscape gesture. I started drawing with the tower as the central anchor point. I was sure from the beginning that the tower should remain the natural main attraction of the site. Thusly it made sense to let all lines diverge from here. It became a very angular and dynamic plan, with the excavations pointing to and from the next stop on the journey, but the problem was that it became too complicated. It was no longer about the content of the frames, but rather about the frames themselves. This is when I realized that the focus should, like in a picture frame, be on the story told inside. the frames should remain abstract and simple geometric shapes, leading the visitors attention to their content. Frames put down in the landscape to enhance already existing or reveal new qualities. The movement between the frames would the be the shortest possible route to the next point of interest, yet low walls would still point out the route. Never from the corner of a frame, but one of its sides. Thusly keeping the shape intact. Not dictating movement, but guiding. My fourth visit to the site further clarified things. I walked the route I had at that point planned, and noticed how unnatural it felt, that it doubled back on itself – making people almost go back the direction they came. Walking outside the wall from the corner tower to the eastern opening I had already decided upon and using it as an entrance however gave a new perspective. The height of the remaining wall is such, that for most part it is impossible to look into the castle, and you are therefore compelled to look out, towards the landscape. As you move forward and up the hill however, the wall becomes lower, and you get a great overview of the castle. Walking in through the hole presented a dilemma, because the point here was, to dig down far enough that the hole was at eye-level. This led to the idea that it should be a steep stair – almost a ladder. That way you will get the view while walking down the stairs and kids can get the view as well by crawling up.

After this weeks mid-crit there were some questions as to the nature of the paths going along the walls. Whether they shouldn’t be kept free of the walls. Showing that they are indeed part of a system of their own. A story about looking at the ruin. Furthermore there were some questions as to the nature of the viewing platform and the building. Going down the stairs to go up again was a point I could see myself. There are two options. Either stop the building at the point on the hill where you exit now or exit at the bottom down by the water and walk up the hill outside on a path / stairway. There was also a question as to whether it needed to be a building or it could simply be a landscape staircase, but I really feel that this heated room for viewing the landscape would be a very special and useful one. Perhaps it could be used for lectures like an auditorium / classroom as well? The setup is already right and then school classes and groups with a guide could make a stop there in any weather.

When I start to collect all these  blog posts and write my final CWR I also need to go back to my reflections about the idea of excavating in the first place. At first it came the idea of wanting to enter the tower at the base, but it as it were – I became interested in the space that could be created around the base of the tower. I went through a process of wanting to enter via tunnels, etc. all still with the purpose of entering the tower, but it was only when I decided that it was the excavation itself that was the point of departure for my project that it began to take shape. So I started out with a very radical approach to working with the ruin. Cutting into it and walking inside the walls to maintain the integrity of the space – but ruining the structure in the process. I then went on to sketch a project where the outer walls of the neighboring building would be used as the foundations for a new wall. Much in the same way as at Kolumba museum. I mixture of different approaches because I wasn’t sure how to attack the idea of making a visitor centre. When I arrived at the idea of excavation it also became clear from the pin-up’s that for the idea to work it had to be about displaying the ruin and treating it as gently as possible. That means either not touching or making an art out of touching as little as possible. This relates very much to Exner’s philosophy at Koldinghus.

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The load-bearing columns only lightly touch the floor in a very small footprint. Giving the idea of only wanting to lightly touch the old.

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In Zumthor’s project at Chur excavation is also the central idea. Here the sights are completely enclosed by the new buildings to protect them. The visitors walk on a raised bridge and can only get near the ruin at specific points where a very light staircase leads down. This very delicate way of treating the ruin is very relevant for me.

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