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Collective memory in Architecture: Craft School in Anderlecht, Brussels

  • Wachoński, D. (author)
Publication Date
Jul 09, 2020
TU Delft Repository
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The studio theme is spolia/bricolage, which means re-using old materials or ideas (spolia) and working spontaneously with what is found at hand (bricolage). The research leading to the collective memory and its architectural application was about Alvaro Siza’s way of working with context, local community and ‘as-found’ elements on the site. The collective memory – especially as described by Aldo Rossi – is something that architects has to find on site and interpret through his culture and knowledge to provide the architectural design settled in the context. This way of approaching to the given place allows better understanding of local way of living, the needs and architectural solutions responding to it. On another hand, it deals very much with the identity crisis in modern cities, which are dominated by placeless architecture, which was promoted by modernism. All those issues raised in the projects are also the concern of the studio, which focuses on medium-sized areas, which problems need to be understood in detail, so they are too small for tools of urbanism to provide the accurate solutions.<br/>The idea of memory is an important part of the approach, allowing to find cultural importance of certain elements in space. The site is located in Anderlecht district and plot for the intervention is a collage of everything both in form and function. Traditional row-houses, post-industrial buildings, modernist housing block and 16-storey high slab social housing in one place together with a park and a lot of undefined space occupied by ruins or outdoor storages. The place, however, has a certain history of the Senne river, which once flew through Brussels and at some point in time was covered and left traces within the whole city or industrial character of the neighbourhood which is still visible and now is the topic of many projects which consider bringing back the character of productive metropolis to Brussels. Nevertheless, the plot is complicated in its present state and challenges students to think between the urban and architectural scale in order to improve the spatial quality on the site by using tools and precision, which would not be accessible on an only urban scale.<br/><br/>Since the post-war modernist times, architects regularly raised the critical concern on the technology dominance, standardization and commodification of the architecture. Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre wrote the theory of Critical Regionalism, which was later cited and expanded by Kenneth Frampton. Previously mentioned Aldo Rossi and Christine Boyer wrote about collective memory where they criticised and tried to refer to the context made by modernist architecture in cities. As it appeared, post-modernism with its contextual movement also did not solve the problems of disappearing identity within modern cities.<br/>Today, the effects of globalization are much more visible than back in the 1970s and therefore the role of an architect is also about understanding different issues appearing in various areas of one’s work. Moreover, in the time of rapid development of technology, changing societal habits, architecture also has to keep that pace. It is an architect’s role to keep up with the innovative research methodologies and knowledge to provide a better response to the dynamic environment of constant change. Important thing is that the theory does not promote coming back to vernacular roots, but creates a room for interpretation of these values in a critical way. The problems outlined by mentioned architects, philosophers and sociologists can still be found as an important issues of modern architecture which has to deal with the fast-growing of the cities, sustainability issues and therefore the development of technology – especially in the time when international submissions for architects are not exceptions, but in most cases everydayness. This pace of growing demands and shrinking deadlines makes it difficult for proper studying of context and ends up in standardized structures optimized to meet all demands. The most common concern cited in mentioned works is placeless architecture, which cuts off itself from the context.<br/>Studying those phenomena, reasons why they appear and how are the possible solutions to them can give me a proper awareness for my professional future as an architect to implement this knowledge during the real projects. / Architecture, Urbanism & Building Sciences | Urban Architecture

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