The Presidential Potlatch – An Archive of Anomalies

by Sylvie Hagens from KU Leuven - Faculty of Architecture, Belgium
Tutored by: Martine De Maeseneer, Kris Scheerlinck

Author comments:

Strangely PowerPoint’s voice-overs with robotic voices are still selling ideas of green harmonious happy make-believe communities, merely playing on emotions of possible buyers. Most of these projects only contribute to an evanescent, non-sustainable way of doing urbanism. Urban investments are equal to building infrastructure or investing in the area by building large-scale projects that will ‘fix’ the city by offering a programmatic complexity. Architecture is reduced to a service industry and becomes purely a symptom treatment. The architectural ambition is to create a new urban condition instead of prescribing predictable architecture as an antidote. The autonomous character of the project can be seen as a critique on the predictable, homogenous condition in architecture today. It is a proposition for form. Until now the Presidential archive always have celebrated the individual in which the role of the attraction overshadows the memorial. Should the archive not reflect on political affairs instead? Which means not building to a person but building to the laws, the society. An archive: 1. A building which only goal is to achieve eternity; 2. representing the content without the content being visible and thus reflect on the presence of the eternal absence? The object in architecture is always seen as irresponsible but is there a potential in an extreme reduction? A mega form, as a continuation 
of the American tradition of massive scales and the power of the grid.

Tutor comments:

This project was developed for the Master Dissertation project, within the project of Barack Obama Presidential Library, North Lawndale, West Chicago

'The city needs to be organized like a geometric labyrinth, which is planned regularity. It is only than when the city becomes a system of knowledge, a machine.' Descartes

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