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UnDoing Exhibition Catalogue + Essays

Stone, Sally and Pendergast, Matthew and Emery, Tom and Sanderson, Laura (2019) UnDoing Exhibition Catalogue + Essays. MSA Press. ISBN 978-0-9929673-6-9

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Abstract

Buildings hold histories. Architectural style and function can teach us about our historical predecessors and our contemporaries, but more than this, buildings store the individual histories of the people who used them. Worn floors, damaged surfaces, graffitied walls, these serve as records of the people who were here, for whom a particular building was a fundamental part of the infrastructure of daily life. In any given building exciting things have happened, terrible things have happened, but mostly, things have just happened, everyday life continued and for the most part, it wasn’t notable, except to the person who lived it. So, what happens when an architect renovates or redevelops an existing building or place? Often, this is simply the necessary work to make a building useable. But redevelopment can also be a threat. It can herald gentrification, or the loss of the history attached to a specific building. Any significant redevelopment inevitably attracts criticism from people who are worried that they will lose something, whether that is the affordability to continue living in their home, or the historical value attached to a certain site. How then, do architects manage the conflict between the needs of the present with the value of the past? What is lost once a building is gone for good? What is our relationship to our history, and how do we inhabit and respond to our present environment? These are questions that are explored throughout UnDoing, with contributions from a range of international architects and artists who explore how buildings, places and artefacts are re-used, reinterpreted and remembered.

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