This dissertation was inspired by the discovery of a machine in the industrial wasteland of Pretoria West. The machine, a flour mill built in 1908, has been extended and transformed and layered through time. Symbolic of the context, it now lies silent – its core has been removed long ago. With an odour of mystery, the fate of the complex remains vague as the body of history is lost in time. Rich in textures and details, the tectonics represent the values of function and process. Mysterious, uncertain and contradictory; facts [history, memory, experienced space] and fiction [imagination] begin to blur. The precinct of Pretoria West unfolds as a wasteland, static in nature and detached from civil society. Surreal in character, the condition manifests itself as a disembodied reality and reveals “a place lost in space, lost in time.” It appears that “…even history does not have its place here” [Webster, 2012]. In this context - without memory and deprived of imagination - the public lives in a liminal state of existence. Engulfed in a static condition of the now, the present becomes the only reality. Without roots in the past and projections to the future, the public realm remains indifferent to both. The proposed programmes form part of the investigation into the site’s fragmented past. A natural perfumery in alliance with a glassblowing workshop is explored within the urban framework proposal of the ‘Hard-boiled Wonderland’. Addressing not only the downfall of the artisan brought about by mechanised forms of production but also the static notion of dealing with remembrance, the project focuses on the inspiration of the imagination and collective memory. The hypothesis of a new interface between the public, architecture, memory and imagination is approached through the mnemonics of the everyday. In pursuit of a resolution, the sense of olfaction takes the central role in the formation of public space that invites rituals of remembrance through ordinary daily activities and events. The project explores ways to inspire and reflect on the site’s history and the memory of the civic society using a domain that leaves no trace in history – through the fleeting realm of scent.
Dissertation MArch(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2013.