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House: an architectural archive

Part 1 Project 2007
Andrea Fabiana Obiol
London Metropolitan University | UK
The project, to re-house the RIBA’s Drawing Collection, evolved through a series of investigations which considered the archive as a dynamic entity, inviting interaction. An initially unsited proposition, chamber, established strong formal and material concerns through considering relationships between viewer and artefact. The site of the building proposal, the Boilerhouse Courtyard within the V&A museum, offered the opportunity to critique the institution’s relationship with the city; re-defining spaces of entry and offering orientation. The project considers how two institutions of differing scale and purpose might ‘share’ a site but maintain individuality; how old is juxtaposed with new and how these things are perceived by the public. An interest in architectural ‘character’ developed as a preoccupation with the building’s physionogmy, relative to powerful existing facades. Their tectonic informed a conversation about the unity of material, structure and ornament
Andrea Fabiana Obiol

This project synthesises a series of concerns in relative to the nature and manifestation of the archive, as contemporary cultural institution. Early briefs critiqued ideas around ‘collection’, investigating the status of representational artefacts and their relationship both to the viewer and that which they represent. Here, powerful geometrical characteristics are established through direct transcription of perspectival drawing techniques into tectonics. Traditional brick construction is developed to articulate these relationships. Its singular materiality defines hierarchies in plan and section, encompassing structure, services and the surfaces of principal rooms. The building is an authoritative intervention. It establishes equivalence with the strong Victorian context, resisting the contemporary orthodoxy of subservience, whilst volumetrically adjusting its innate geometry in relation to found conditions. The diagonal dissection of site articulates the relationship between the two institutions and establishes the longest possible elevation as a new face for the V&A, orientating the visitor to the heart of the complex.

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