Harvard Graduate School of Design
Master of Architecture Thesis
Advisor: John Hong
How can a monument to the past remain relevant in the present?
The emergence of the digital archive has engendered a mania to gather, catalogue, and store everything without regard for its relative value and place within history. Though archiving can be seen as an act of preservation, it is also an act of destruction. Entombing information offers a means of destroying it to liberate the future from the past. Thus, forgetting is the companion of archiving. Andreas Huyssen writes of a “major and puzzling contradiction in our culture. The undisputed waning of history and historical consciousness, the lament about political, social and cultural amnesia…have been accompanied in the past decade and a half by a memory boom of unprecedented proportions.” What is missing from this odd partnership of the past and the future is any sense of the present, of the processes of change, of the awareness of existing in a particular cultural moment.
In this proposal for a language archive, the structure of the building acts as a metaphor for the content it contains. The tensile pods holding each language library are aurally and structurally interlinked, creating reverberations throughout the archive that demonstrate the languages’ connectivity to one another and their continual evolution.
A traditional archive mediates content through a curator. The digital archive, a recent typology, contains no hierarchy. This building defines an alternate relationship between archivist, content, and audience. Within it, architecture acts as the curator between the digital archive and the public.