by Vidhya Pushpanathan, Intermediate Unit 7 RIBA Bronze Medal 2012 Winner
5 December 2012 Royal Institute of British Architects, London   In the effort to balance local identity with global influences, Moscow has been subject to simultaneous spurts of renewal and reversal. Paradoxically, continuous deconstruction and reconstruction define the city’s state as in-between preserved historical monuments and remakes vs. contemporary transplants and additions, blurring oppositions between original and fake, old and new, generic and specific. Such contradictory forces and processes are legible in layers of fragments and clusters of displaced programs and events. As part of the tension between cultural and commercial venues, both static landmark museums and dynamic commercial gallery enterprises call for new mediating design positions.   Addressing Moscow’s paradox of deconstruction and reconstruction, the “Depository of Forgotten Monuments” puts forward a flexible architectural framework that takes into account conflicted urban processes, structures and programs. As both a curatorial strategy and an urban prototype, it defines a hybrid between cultural and commercial art sites and allows for the co-existence of past and future as part of the transient collection of architectural replicas, quotations, and mediations.   The Depository expands the logic of the three-dimensional grid as an organizational scaffold that can support cyclical and incomplete processes of construction, collision, deconstruction, exchange, reconstruction, and so forth. The scaffolding system nurtures new symbiotic relationships between fragmented structures, spaces and programs, supporting provisional orders within a seemingly chaotic accumulation.   Poised as a ‘no-stop’ bridge and time-link between two symptomatic palimpsest districts on either side of Moskva River – the resurrected complex of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the re-appropriated post-industrial Streylka Island – the Depository helps concentrate fragments sourced from dissimilar city periods and sites. The bridge matrix includes key ‘condenser’ cores that attract dissimilar formal sectors while supporting contained, distributed and displaced programmes. With both form and program in flux, the external blurred image of incomplete silhouettes and overlapping spatial grids is deliberately at odds with the internal daily events, seasonal festivals, visiting gallery installation and resident cultural institutions. The depository will slowly expand to eventually consume the city of Moscow in order to generate the process of urban renewal that Muscovites desire.   For more information: The RIBA President's Medals Student Awards Vidhya Pushpanathan on Projects Review 2012 Vidhya Pushpanathan's website