Remember in Architecture
City and Memory_Olga Sezneva
If the memorial is indeed a sculpture established to remind of a person or an event (as the Oxford dictionary tells us), then General Robert Lee is in trouble. The memory of his deeds is now forever overshadowed by that of the death of a young woman, Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville, VA, USA in the summer of 2017 when a protest turned violent. The General’s trouble has not started there, however. He, as well as a half-a-dozen of other Confederate figures, fell under public scrutiny earlier, in 2015; their statues taken down in cities like New Orleans, LA, Gainesville or Jacksonville, FL. The tide of critical examination of the Confederate memorials then moved north and widened, reaching the city of New York and bringing its own statuary to question. Monuments threatened with removal included the equestrian statue of President Theodore Roosevelt outside the Museum of Natural History and the statue of the gynecologist J. Marion Sims on Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street, in addition to the memorial of Christopher Columbus at the southwest corner of Central Park. It has been now remembered that Roosevelt advocated eugenics and Sims gained her reputation as a pioneering gynaecologist by performing medical experiments on black women in the South without the use of anaesthesia1, while the discoveries of Columbus led to the extermination of indigenous people.
Memory’s not Perfect_Diego Terna
Projects that work on the theme of memory face a universe made of personal remembrances, activated in the visitors through the same space in which they are located. It is a constitutive subject of architecture, which has established a good part of its existence on this dialogue between present and past, through a purely architectural operation or through a more metaphorical and symbolic work.
Whatever the modality, activating a personal interpretation of the past is fundamental for defining a plausible future through the built space. It is a journey of discovery, like the protagonist of the movie Memento; it can be a biographical survey, as in Aldo Rossi’s projects; it can also be almost obliged by an existing situation, as in the works of Leon Battista Alberti. Without certainties, but constructing an own atlas of memories, past will structure the narration of space.
Memory and past build a foundational basis for projects that will be analyzed below, but they become living elements only thanks to a vision that is not anchored to this past, but that draws strength from it, for submerging, then, in an innovative future.