Construction in reverse: Addressing collective memory through disassembly and reassembly of a public building

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master's Thesis
Architecture and urban design (MPARC), MSc
Rahm Gullander, Siri
The contemporary urban landscape is undergoing constant change, creating a mix of building typologies and styles that coexist. In addition, the city and its buildings play a big part in the formation of memories and identities both for individuals and for collectives. This thesis investigates how a changing built fabric and the creation of memories could be addressed in tandem. How can selective reuse of an existing building, located on a site that is in transformation, support and develop collective memories? The building this thesis centers around is Valhallabadet which is situated on Heden in Gothenburg. It was designed by the architects Nils Olsson and Gustaf Samuelsson in 1956. The building has a well-preserved exterior and interior with both historical, architectural and aesthetic values, for example the monumental wall mosaics in the interior by the artist Nils Wedels. The building has been threatened with demolition since March 2022, something that has stirred substantial protests and resistance. The project is based on theories on collective memory and demolition and reuse. The method entails collecting, disassembling, and reassembling fragments from the building, resulting in a design for a new but reused building on a public square in the Guldheden neighbourhood from the 1950s in Gothenburg. The design proposal for Guldheden is a carrier of collective memories from the Valhallabadet adapted and translated into structures that make it coexist with its new conditions as well as the past. The method of creating something new and at the same time familiar is interesting because it explores deconstruction on one site as well as subsequent construction on another site. The project thus addresses two specific contexts through interpretations and translations of the already existing. The thesis uses drawings, photographs and 3D-models as a way of collecting, archiving and representing material from the process. “One can say that the city itself is the collective memory of its people, and like memory it is associated with objects and places. The city is the locus of the collective memory.” Aldo Rossi, Architecture of the city, 1984
Collective memory , Demolition , Reuse
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