25 June 2014
Architectural Association, London
Tucked in amongst the listed terrace houses of Bloomsbury lie the city’s new monuments to nostalgia. They are fragmented extensions of the British Museum, housing the bulk of the Museum’s collection, 99 percent of which was formerly in storage. They are entombed in a concrete shell that keeps the traces and volume of the houses that once were.
The proposal negotiates the fictions of the British Museum and English Heritage’s curation of London: fictions that the city is not removed from its past, and its objects are not removed from their origins. In an exchange between these two curators, the stored objects are displayed in Bloomsbury, and the fragments of the houses that are demolished to make way for them are kept.
Every brick, joist, and roof slate is documented and stored by the British Museum in the warehouses where its objects once were. The proposal becomes a placeholder for the archive that is elsewhere, and the pieces of the listed house are kept – just in case.
It was wonderful on the honours presentation day to see everyone’s work, and it was a testament to the atmosphere of the AA that it is impossible to prepare your presentation without help from your friends.
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