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Absence through layering: from experiencing urban leftovers to reimagining sites

Lanuza Rilling, Felipe A.; (2017) Absence through layering: from experiencing urban leftovers to reimagining sites. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

As built reality, architecture constitutes presence: a place created to have a present use and meaning. Absence, in contrast, reflects the condition of no longer used leftover spaces and structures that escape the definition of architecture and the city as designed and planned environments. I investigate absence as it appears in the experience of urban leftovers, drawing its qualities into processes of design and representation. Using a cross-disciplinary approach centred in architecture, I ground my research on a series of distinctive sites, which feature different forms of absence. The layering of photographs, videos, drawings and writings is the method through which I explore absence, responding to its capacity of evoking distant, uncertain and multiple presences. By studying an unrealised project by Peter Eisenman for the Cannaregio Ovest district in Venice and George Descombes’ Parc de Lancy near Geneva I focus on absence in the relation between site and design. In two further case studies, located in South London, I analyse and interpret absence in the context of broader processes of urban transformation: Burgess Park, intermittently built over the last 60 years on a partially effaced industrial setting that still bears traces of its former configuration; and the Heygate, a modernist council estate that remained almost empty for a decade, and was recently demolished to give way to a contentious regeneration project. I reveal absence as key for a nuanced architectural understanding and representation of the experience of the city – not opposed to presence but in balance and complementarity to it. Through layering I show how the awareness of and engagement with absence enables a richer, denser and more inclusive dialogue between site and design, rendering absence as such: something that remains away from our grasp so it has to be recreated through memory and imagination.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Absence through layering: from experiencing urban leftovers to reimagining sites
Event: University College London
Language: English
Keywords: absence, layering, urban leftovers, urban memory, terrain vague, Heygate Estate, Burgess Park, Parc de Lancy, Cannaregio, photography
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1560066
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