Author : Hamzah Mansoor

University : University of Melbourne

Status : MArch, 2015

Advisor : Andrew Simpson

Title : Excavations Through Time

The archaeological image of ruins, so often neglected for being irrelevant to today’s society, is nonetheless capable of conveying not only the evocative power of buildings from the past but also the destructive strength of time and nature. In this – construction / destruction / juxtaposition  – not only does it give us reminders of disappeared buildings, but it also triggers mental reconstruction for future architectures, like a [ palimpsest ] reminiscent of the traces through time.

Can architecture incorporate the practice of palimpsest in its built form? A layering of stories, fragments and traces, to better understand the transformation and history of its place? Can architecture be represented like stratigraphy (the geological study of rock layers and layering), to give occasions for attempted flashbacks, with events that marked the history of the city of Piraeus?

The urban environment of Piraeus, a port city with a long history in its development, can be characterized as a palimpsest built upon layers. Through centuries, Piraeus has constructed and transformed a multi-layered record of streets, squares and passages that are constantly being explored and maneuvered by people and visitors residing within the City.

For the design of the Archaeological Museum of Antiquities in Piraeus, I proposed a similar concept that draws on the notion of palimpsest; but by acting as  [ archaeologists]. The site sits in between the ruin fortification wall of Piraeus from 493 BC to 404BC, suggesting that land is still waiting to be [ excavated ] rather than for new structures to be built. This metaphor of an excavation can be adapted through  [ revealing and unearthing ], as archaeologists do, the architectures hidden below ground. In this way, the project aims to unveil its floor plan of an underground museum, creating a 2500-year old [ timeline ] corridor, with small pauses and capsules connecting each find with time, history and everyday life.

Interview

S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Hamzah Mansoor_ The project explores the notion of palimpsest as a design mechanism – A layering of stories, fragments and traces, to better understand the transformation and history of its place.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
HM_ Art History and Natural Geography.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
HM_ To find a muse for your design projects, that will continuously keep you driven and inspired.

S//A : Describe your dream project
HM_ I would like to be involved in projects where intangible elements are being explored and expressed. I love architecture that has a strong atmospheric setting.