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Neorealist director-architect critically observing the obvious

Chamoun, C.; (2010) Neorealist director-architect critically observing the obvious. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Within post-war (1975–2000) and post-Syrian-occupied (1976–2005) Beirut, civic values are being challenged on a daily basis. In this particular post-war, post-occupied condition, when seven million cubic feet of ancient Beirut have been demolished and dumped into the water, architecture can no longer be compatible with conventional design principles, but may alternatively seek to look ‘critically at the obvious’1 through Neorealism in order to develop a new type of architect and architecture able to deal with such a circumstance. A similar condition may be experienced through considering the characteristics and techniques in Rome Open City (1945) by the Neorealist film director Roberto Rossellini; with makeshift studio space, no comprehensive cast of professional actors, no advanced lighting systems, one-page scripts, no formal camera framing, no perpetual recording of dialogue and no formal financial backing, Rossellini creatively documented post-World War II Italy and the devastating impact of the Fascist regime and Nazi occupation of Rome. As an architect living in post-war/post-Syrian-occupied Beirut, I believe the fifteenth-century drawing tools and techniques of the designer-architect2 are less useful in Beirut today. Rather, an investigation into the oeuvre of Neorealism and the formation of a ‘Neorealist Director-Architect’ (NrDA) model will attempt to offer relevant post-war architecture in Beirut. The research question raised is: to what extent can the gambits, devices and techniques of film history, with a focus on the Neorealist film-director Roberto Rossellini, serve as a model for the NrDA, providing an alternative model for the traditional designer-architect? The proposed NrDA shall utilize a set of both theoretical and practical tools derived from Neorealist film technique and adapted to architecture through the use of interviews, photography, film, animation, video and audio recordings, newspapers and current gossip and material reconstitution, as well as digital and physical modelling, to locate and record the various forms of myth and matter within Beirut. The new-found knowledge base and tool set are then applied in making the proposed ‘Municipal Structure of Negotiation’ (MSN) as an architectural testimony to the NrDA model.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Neorealist director-architect critically observing the obvious
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Architecture

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