Beyond simulacrum : the model as three-dimensional post factum documentation

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Documentation within architecture refers to working drawings that are produced to envisage an imagined building. These drawings are a tangible representation of an object that has no tangible existence. Conventional documentation regards the act of drawing as that process upon which the object is wholly dependent for its coming into existence: they assist in ‘getting to’ the building. However, the definition of the word ‘document’ refers to a record of events, that is, post factum evidence. Within architecture, drawing as a record is not the dominant practice. Instead, representation that is a visualisation of the non-existent dominates. Hence, the realm of post factum documentation is under-examined. Due to the predominance of drawing within architecture, models are seen as an adjunct to drawings and so their role and potential has been examined in far less depth than that of architectural drawings. This thesis explores the notion of the model as three-dimensional post factum documentation of architecture. Through the theory of drawing, case studies of models of various scales are examined. These case studies are the Panorama model of New York City, the reconstruction of Mies van der Rohe’s German Pavilion, and the exhibition of architecture as post factum model, in particular the work of Peter Eisenman, Herzog and de Meuron, El Lissitzky, Allan Wexler and Diller and Scofidio. This examination repositions models within an expanded notion of the design process, which displaces the built object as the endpoint of this process, and investigates the critical facility of models.
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