Alternative Manual to Archaeology, 2019

Student Project

This project explores an alternative heritage practice in the Ancient Agora of Athens, where the site is reactivated as a public space; restoring its original function but finding form in playful investigations of material and human agency. It seeks to re-assess the ways in which we engage with sites and objects that are deemed archaeology, by exploring the architectural mediation of archaeology and subverting the status on an archaeological site.

The site, like the city itself, is a palimpsest. The fragments of building and scars in the ground are a record of the processes and events that have taken place. I am interested in an architecture that speaks of its process; the quarry marks on the surface of Mount Penteli, the lifting bosses on the Parthenon blocks and the blackened patina on the ancient marble.
A series of casts were made to investigate the concept of decay. The process in which the casts are made can be read from the outcome; through the stratification of the materials and evidences of the pour. As the casts are made, the mold is moved around. The outcome of each cast is dictated by the material characteristics and the way they interact with each other: a combination of material and human agency. The casts became a way of testing and sampling ideas related to preservation; such as replication and repair. Using removable materials such as wax with different melting temperatures, lines of weakness and decay can be designed and recast into new blocks. This material response explores ruination and disintegration as culturally and architecturally productive

A large cast was used as a test bed for ideas of casting and carving; the principles that were explored in the initial investigations were applied to programmatic functions of the theatre and museum. The model itself spans multiple scales, allowing for explorations at different levels of detail and resolution. With conventional architectural models, the site and architecture are read as distinct elements; here, the two parts are fused together, with the archaeology rendered as a homogenous white mass and the architecture appropriating the disintegrating language of the ruins and the geological conditions. There are moments where the archaeology is absorbed by the architecture and vice versa.

Digital and Analogue Processes

Processes of photogrammetry were used at various stages during the construction of the cast; this allowed for an archive of the construction development. This formed a feedback loop, where the analogue process translated into digital data. This data was used as a design tool, where the next stage of construction could be planned, with bespoke pieces that responded to the previous. This development process was based on the back and forth between digital and analogue, with the discrepancies and unpredictability of both processes in its translation altered the outcome. As part of the analysis, the surfaces were unrolled to reveal the voids within the cast and the investigation of the material texture.

Time-Lapse of Site

The temporality of the site, fluctuating between states of architecture and archaeology, is illustrated through the time-lapse drawings below.  Over time, the site functions as an excavation site, archaeology site, museum and public space; with elements of each overlapping.

Internal Spaces

Below the excavation datum, there is a collision between the archaeological and architectural elements. The traditional archaeology of the site is rendered as white masses, whilst the architecture adopts the language of ruin and dystrophy.

© Priscilla Wong