Final design and research thesis, MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, 2018
Since its beginning in the 1st century AD up to the present day the City of London has been subject to constant change and alterations. While its city layout is a heterogeneous and dense urban carpet today, the City’s main structure proved to be a robust antagonist to iterative destruction horizons occurring during the last two millennia. This research and design project investigates the historical components provoking changes within the original Roman city layout and successive alteration towards its contemporary condition by asking the question: How do its Roman origins manifest in the contemporary urban layout of the City of London?
The methods applied to this thesis resemble two archaeological techniques: The stratigraphic excavation – a method where one layer after the other is removed – is applied to the horizontal urban survey. The quadrant excavation, which defines a certain orthogonal area in order to vertically survey all cut through layers. It is applied to the in-depth research and design part of this thesis.
Every layer of information gathered can be located within a vertical diagram as well as three-dimensional space. Finally, with the connection of the historic layers to time, a fourth component is added to the scheme. Due to the complexity of the assemblage of all layers underneath the ground in the course of different periods of time, it is one of the aims of this thesis to make the evolutionary factors of the contemporary City visible in three physical models.
Sophie Schrattenecker was born in Upper Austria and grew up in Vienna. Between 2008 and 2009 she lived and worked in Ecuador. After returning, Sophie studied architecture at the University of Art and Design in Linz, Austria, and did field research on Southern American bamboo constructions in Ecuador and Columbia in 2013.
As second course of studies she signed in for Classical and Ancient Studies in Salzburg, Austria, from 2015 to 2017.
Sophie finished her Master of Architecture in 2017 with a design and research thesis about the Cañada Real, an informal settlement located at the outskirts of Spain’s capital city Madrid.
In 2018 she completed a postgraduate master in Architecture and Historic Urban Environments at The Bartlett School of Architecture in London.
Sophie currently lives and works in Vienna and Linz, Austria.
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Design project in cooperation with the Asmara Heritage Project, Eritrea, MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, 2018
Massawa, the “Pearl of the Red Sea“, is a city of ruins. Over 500 years of capricious history have been absorbed by the island’s urban landscape: Turkish colonialism, Egyptian rule, Italian takeover, earthquakes and Eritrea’s war for independence left traces in Massawa’s built enviornment. What remains of the city today can be regarded as an archive of Eritrean history. More occupied than inhabited by only a hand full of people, its empty houses and plazas tell great stories of passed times. It is the aim of this project to complement the historic fabric of Massawa in an unobtrusive way in order to turn it into a place worth living in again. At this, the city’s historical density is understood as an opportunity for raising awareness and pride for the Eritrean identity. All elements introduced by this project are designed as an immanent part of Massawa. Alike its ruins, these elements are generated out of its place and will be transforming back into it over time. Therefore, the half- nished, half-eroded state of the city should not be regarded as an exceptional condition, but much more as what Massawa‘s architecture historically expresses: gradual growth, change and decay.
3rd prize, project in cooperation with Stefan Gruber
The city as a place of human diversity manifests itself in zones of public accessibility and assembly. Bologna’s outstandingly nuanced public spaces are characterised not only by rich plazas and Renaissance building compositions, but especially by a diverse route guidance system composed of arcades, passages and alleys. These interurban open spaces are key elements for the functioning city organism. Almost like a porous membrane they allow the city to operate and to breathe.
Whilst urban integration forms one reality in Bologna, the language of exclusion and reservation is a globally present one. Political borders have long become boundaries of mind- sets, where human existences are labelled and categorized across the globe.
It is the design’s objective to insert and make visible the alien elements that surround us. Restriction signs and areas of prohibition, exclusive accesses and separated entries are part of a reality experienced by most people while making their way through the city. By restricting the access to arcades, plazas and alleys in Bologna’s city centre, these porous parts of the urban fabric are suddenly turned into walls. Whilst they still form passages for some groups of people, the restricted zones act as a solid barrier for others. It is the wall of the 21st century that does not consist of stones, mortar and bricks any longer. – A wall of nothing but solid words, shaped by exclusion and marginalisation.
Research project in cooperation with Xin Zheng October 2017 – January 2018
People walking from one part of the city to another through London’s railway arches leave traces on their paths. These traces can be observed in objects, posters or graffiti imprinted onto the robust fabric. What happens if a shop moves out and the space left underneath the arch is kept vacant? What if a light bulb was forgotten by the former shop owner, or a wooden shelf? While plaster crumbles and falls to the ground, advertisement posters are hung up against crude brick walls. A beverage dispenser might be added, or a graffiti showing an iconic figure is sprayed onto the newly painted wall by youngsters from the neighbourhood. Within this movement, the passageways underneath the railway act as bottlenecks, infrastructural junctions where city life steadily leaves its traces.