Context Forgotten

My initial semester of thesis research focused on the contemporary theoretical context of Architectural Ornament. I spent many hours of my research digging through the digital archives of the French National Library, where I was especially drawn to the excavation drawings of ruins in the 18th and 19th century. Fascinated by the rigorous methods of field observation and drawing that were executed by architects and Pensionnaires, I began to understand the significance observation yields not only in understanding cultures and history, but also in Architectural Education and spatial understanding.

In the contemporary context, we can’t ignore the fact that we exist in a post-post modern world that’s experiencing a digital and technological renaissance – One where tectonic newness and programmatic efficiency dominate. Through curiosity more than resistance, I chose to employ the digital tools and means of our era, not as a way of technological expression, but as a way of studying overlooked cultural information and opening a critical dialogue about the past. More specifically, to pry the humanistic and cultural significance of buildings as they live, age, and die in our contemporary cities.

Choosing an aged mid-century modern building in San Diego, I striped it of its theoretical modernist context and executed a field analysis and excavation of the building as if it were lost in time. Through the process of pragmatic field observation and isolation of tectonic fragments, I was able to re-imagine the building as something new – the emerging typology of the contemporary “ruin”.

Andrew Wagner