Presentation sheets from my interim review with the external examiner in Oxford Brookes last Friday. Presentation clearly still needs some work as I do not intend for it to read so linearly come the final examination, but it had to do as a point of discussion and feedback for the interim. The external examiners spoke of the need to explore alternative strategies for introducing new elements among the ruins in more depth, and mentioned one way forward to develop the architectural theory would be to in effect build the ruins back to their former state and work back from there.
I didn’t say this at the time as it didn’t come to mind for whatever reason, but building the ruins back to a former state would be highly speculative as no one really knows exactly what it looked like or how large the halls were. They know certain facts such as how many floors there were, that were two halls, the date of alterations, that there was a kitchen in the building with a double height space (which they have concluded the mostly likely location of this as being in the remaining tower walls), where the well would have been and what the architectural style most likely was. But the artists impression is just that, an impression, it is not accurate. If you were to reinstate the building in line with this it would just lead many people to question what convinced you that this impression was accurate. This is why I chose not to re-build as part of my conservation strategy, as accurate records of what the building actually looked like are thin on the ground and original materials to re-build with are non-existent. Hence leading me to conclude that the appropriate response would be to emulate, not replicate, former volumes where they positively serve the story of the building both old and new.
But then again that is not to say that other methods of introducing modern elements to the build that are not so delicate might work in some instances. I have mostly been going with my intuition thus far but in a way which marries with other processes outlined in the masterplan, which in a way dictates the methods being explored. The building kind of starts to design itself once these principles have been established. They were basically trying to ward me off of becoming too precious about the old building and what a conservationist might think. I felt they could be confusing the use of the word conservation too, or the role of the conservationist, as the word and theory does not pre-determine a conservative approach. In fact, from my reading of conservation theory and policy from various sources, in many ways a rigorous approach to conservation can and should lead to the opposite outcome. Requiring new additions to be clearly legible. It’s in line with the idea that by creating a pastiche of history that is ignorant of the stories of people living you don’t ‘preserve’ your history, you do the opposite, you water down it’s worth by making it harder to recognise. As with many things in life, there are no black and white answers to this issue, which again is probably what they were getting at; i.e. they want to see adequate evidence/ justification for the approach. Need to outline the influence of the masterplan more maybe.