I’d like to start my first blog with the topic on transformation of heritage sites and the impact of the level of design intervention on the contemporary experience of heritage. This is particularly because this topic is related to our article with Professor Hannah Lewi, which is being presented today via pre-recorded video at AMPS conference 2018, on ‘tangible – intangible heritage’ in London. The paper looks at the significance of the level of design intervention in transforming a heritage site into a contemporary space and its impact on the way we experience it in the present.
We have essentially investigated the architects’ design strategy in a public space project in Barcelona and interpreted it in relation to the site history and the present experience of the visitors. Instead of wiping out the remnants or adding any external architectural structures, the designers show a deep interest in the history of the site by retaining the remnant structures from the Spanish Civil war and the informal houses of the post-war immigrant. This is also evident in their comparative style of drawings where they constantly draw upon the archival drawings of the site topography, the bunkers and the informal houses. They even excavate the landscape in an attempt to carve out the historical topography of the hilltop. In this article we argue that the minimal design intervention through tracing the site history and applying sensitive touches on formal and material finishes provokes a collectively liberal and individually embodied experience
While it was a privilege to visit and inhabit the site in 2012 and find out about the visitors’ individual and collective experience, I had to follow up the continuity of this experience by reading community’s comments in online blogs and websites. It was amazing how much in-depth information I could collect through reading visitors’ comments. In fact it seemed like people can more easily open up about their uncertainties and allow the flow of discussion in an online platform. At the end of this article we pose questions such as the difference between the level of design intervention on the more formal architecture of museum, compared to the more informal and restorative approach to the landscape. We also draw upon the ‘non-designed’ look of the site and its informal setting, which has led to issues with maintenance and safety. I’m hoping that this blog could also become a channel for hearing about the opinion of the wider audience. As we couldn’t attend the conference in person, the recorded presentation is played at the conference and is currently available on AMPS YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6zYdPl0DZ2pCp-uUp_fpFPzPOG7rvLdd.