As part of my final submission of my thesis to McGill School of Architecture I am required to submit a ‘thesis proposition’ (the question and its theoretical context) and the ‘final thesis description’ (a statement of the intentions and results). However, in editing 12 months of work many layers are lost or buried, so the purpose of this blog is to expose the structure that lies beneath those final 2000 words.
First things foremost, a loose record of the reiterations and initial research and interests of the thesis can be viewed here, the course website for the winter 2008 semester. This blog will focus on the development of the thesis between September 2008 and December 2008.
The premise of this thesis is derived from the dual narrative of Haruki Murakami’s novel, ‘Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World’. In which the narrator of the novel flips from chapter to chapter as he simultaneously flips between his inner consciousness (which has been frozen in time) and his outer consciousness (which continues to progress). The purpose of the thesis is to ‘navigate the mind’– examining the technique of collage as a tool that allows the seemingly random cognitive mind to retrieve and input information which in turn processes and produces further information and how that can influence the process of ‘making’ architecture’.
The site for the application of this thesis is located on the land directly east and parallel to the Jacques Cartier Bridge — which annually processes approximate 43 million vehicles (constructed 1925-30). The site also bears the historical icon the Craig Pumping Station which is considered a historical piece of architecture in Montreal and therefore stipulates it’s preservation. As it sits now isolated on an island of land in the midst of eight lanes of traffic it becomes an anomaly within its current context. The station was built in 1887 to assist in flooding. The project will engage this other world as part of our daily process rather than abandon it.
This thesis will make manifest in the programmatic ensemble of a community centre for the Sainte – Marie borough of Montreal Est. The program is chosen for several reasons. A community centre has many ‘given’ spatial dimensions such as regulation sizes for hockey rinks, soccer pitches, swimming pools, gymnastic floors, etc.that enhance the layers of the collage process. As well, the site bears a history of an immigrant population and point of arrival to Montreal and therefore a place that will allow the community to come together and engage in activities is essential. Further, the ability to recall the history and memory of a place is important to a community as a whole, across demographics and not just a specific user group.
process of production
The process of production of this thesis is inspired by the collage works of the artist Joseph Cornell, yet not namely ‘collage’, but also the process of the mind in collage ‘making’. It is very free and allows instinctual and whimsical actions and reminiscent of the outer consciousness. Yet ‘collage making’ stimulates the inner consciousness as a processing system that sequences and engages the input of its given components.
“The encyclopedia wand’s a theoretical puzzle, like Zeno’s paradox. The idea is t’engrave the entire encyclopedia onto a single toothpick. Know how you do it?”
“You tell me.”
“You take your information, your encyclopedia text, and you transpose it into numerics. You assign everything a two digit number, periods and commas included. 00 is a blank, A is 01, B is 02, and so on. Then after you’ve lined them all up, you put a decimal point before the whole lot. So now you’ve got a very long sub-decimal fraction. 0.173000631… Next, you engrave a mark at exactly that point along the toothpick… You follow?”
Murakami, Haruki. Hard-boiled Wonderland and End of the World. 1985. Trans. Alfred Birnbaum. Toronto, ON: Penguin Group, 1991.