Memory Factory

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 1, 2017

Studio leader(s)

  • Holly Xie

Archival Practice As Architectural Strategy

This studio focuses on archiving as design methodology and seeks to investigate the potentials of design through making.

The semester comprises two parts, one will investigate the application of archival practice across disciplines, visiting archives, interviewing industry professionals etc. The second focuses on memory, its remembrance and manufacture, preserving and documenting the ephemeral and intangible. Students will collect information, objects, artefacts, and stories to shape their own architectural propositions.

Archiving as a methodology is a creative practice applicable to the process of architectural design, it is used in the work of theorists such as Michael Foucault, artists such as Christian Boltanski, Gerard Richter, and Cornelia Parker. The architect utilises this strategy to design through collecting, sorting, ordering, and assembling – it is a way to engage with site, memory, and cultural and social identities. Students will be able to undertake several strands of research, “archival” practices of the Wunderkammer/Cabinet of Curiosity, reliquaries, and personal ephemera, sift out strong concepts and form interdisciplinary schemes.

One can collect to make connections, to link the strands between dislocated fragments, to form new interpretations of the past from the standpoint of the present, to derive new meanings by rearranging findings. Artefacts and memories can be transformed to uncover hidden worlds, to give presence to the invisible and intangible. Architecture has the ability to “consciously contribute to a cultural archive in the making”.

The act of collecting implies future proofing, the desire to safeguard ourselves against time and the destruction of memory and objects that it entails. The archive thus ferries between the past, present and future. Preservation suggests an understanding of the past and predicting what will be valuable for the future, this strategy of archiving is an expansion on the role of the architect, facilitating multiple, if not simultaneously conflicting, interests while speculating on future scenarios of the built and natural environments.

Design by making as a process generates a vast spectrum of (often unexpected) outcomes. These manifestations and visual communications of ideas are conducive to the development of independent critical thinking and self- directed process of design through explorative means of production e.g.model making, casting, video, installation, photography etc.

Specifically, inherent in the practice of casting are themes of disappearance, traces, “lostness” and archiving, integral to this studio. Giving formal expression to the most malleable of ideas, casting draws on memory and trust, culminating in the theatricality of the unveiling moment.

The process of making initiates a dialogue strong in material presence, engaging the tangible and tactile to interrogate the occupation of space and the paradoxes between haptic thresholds.

The semester will include drawing and model making workshops that focus on visual and material expression and investigation. There will be a series of discussions and lectures on the various strands of archival practice evident in the arts, living technologies, ecological systems and forensic science. Thus exploring a cross-disciplinary design attitude in this studio.

One site will be chosen from a selection of “unlikely” or “impossible” spaces in the city. We will focus on the transformation of space and architecture as an alchemical application to site.

The programme is for a Memory Factory. This factory is an elusive and sometimes unreliable archive. Students may choose if this takes the form of one built form or several.


CORNELIA PARKER, The Maybe, 1995.