Middle Ground: Between Monument and Fabric
Dessauvage, Marc Alphonse
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CitationDessauvage, Marc Alphonse. 2021. Middle Ground: Between Monument and Fabric. Master's thesis, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
AbstractThis thesis re-assesses our contemporary distinctions between monument and fabric to discover methods for intervening in historic cities. Antwerp, like many European cities, was faced with the consequences of urban exodus and economic expansion during the 20th century, leading to extensive sprawl that left the core as a static center for commerce and tourism. Today, Antwerp has to contend with a crisis in the medieval center after a long focus on developments at the periphery. In response, the city is investing in cross-parceling strategies to create density, as well as investing millions each year on the restoration of its monuments. With these are two contradictory desires -the updating of medieval city fabric and the preservation of monuments – there is however no consensus or declarative strategy as to how these ambitions are to be reconciled urbanistically. This thesis looks at Antwerp’s mandated development of new construction not as a plague, but as an opportunity to re-evaluate both the symbolic and programmatic status of the church in a changing city.
In this context, a double-sided approach is taken, adapting both the interior and surrounding fabric of Antwerp’s St. Jacobskerk (St. James’s Church). A conservation hall and a procession of galleries linked to St. Jacobskerk is proposed in order to house the church’s Baroque and Renaissance artifacts, as well as clear the nave for the conservation of hidden medieval murals. Coming together with a new housing proposal, the extension creates a continuous elevation in front of the church, addressing the monument’s symbolic status in the contemporary city.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367912