This dissertation approaches the concept of city as object as experimental ground for exploring, understanding and expressing an architectural process that might define and delineate the reading of place as conductor of narrative and memory. The developed process is utilised in order to understand and interpret memory of the object , and becomes a tool for exposing the absence of presence. The intention of with the proposal is to employ the complex historical context of the city of Johannesburg, as manifested in the built fabric of the city, in order to transcribe the city as object into the city as memory through the use of fiction and narrative.
In order to create an effective description of the city as memory, multiple layers of narrative must be expressed at different scales and converted into a tectonic proposal which represents the arrangement and ordering of those narratives.
The three structural relationships which pervade the narrative of The Secret Garden (1909) can be found to exist on a physical level in the city of Johannesburg, and the book is seen as a metaphor for the dynamic and often unstable ur¬ban conditions of Johannesburg. The structural relationships in the fiction are used as basis for the architectural investigation, which will present the recurring themes of The Secret Garden in an architectural form at the site of the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
PRESENCE, ORIGIN and AESTHETIC OBJECT are questioned through the application of Peter Eisenman s theory of scaling, in order to determine how the understanding of memory can inform the reoccupation and continued fiction of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. This action is explored with the intension to connect the city of Johannesburg, the object , to those projecting the action, the reader , in order to instil the city of Johannesburg as memory. The role of the city as memory questions whether the Johannesburg building fabric is an appropriate relic . More specifically it questions whether heritage buildings located in a city such as Johannesburg can be reused in such a way so as to transcend the present and future developments which surround them.
The proposed programme will attempt to locate the place of architectural speculation with regards to the city context, and explicate the relationship between the speculative act of architecture and representational inquiry. The proposed architectural intervention will translate the fiction into a more detailed spatial experience, with the purpose of emphasizing an approach to the reuse of heritage buildings, so that they become the catalyst points within a city which transcribe the object into the whole. Therefore an architectural process is developed which transcribes and reacts to the pre-existing, present and implied elements (PAST, PRESENT and IMMANENT), whilst also emphasizing and understanding of what those elements are.
Mini Dissertation (MArch(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2015.