Archiving the Barcelona Pavilion and the Cumulative Tale

Lau, C. Forthcoming. Archiving the Barcelona Pavilion and the Cumulative Tale. Society of the Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB) Annual Symposium. online 17 Jul 2020

TitleArchiving the Barcelona Pavilion and the Cumulative Tale
AuthorsLau, C.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

In this paper, the formula used in the construction of cumulative tales is appropriated as a working methodology for the practice of archival research. This method of material curation results in another narrative, re-telling and presentation of Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion.(1) Essentially, the technique of constructing a cumulative tale requires the users’ imagination to connect fragments of material through repetition. The pattern of repetition takes precedence as the process of material acquisition generates the core action and, adds breadth and depth to a basic narrative.

Adopting and adapting the approach and structure of the cumulative tale ‘This is the House that Jack Built’, the discussion highlights the method's inventiveness in interpreting archival material that subsequently adds to existing interpretations of the Pavilion.(2) The cumulative formula not only addresses debates of whether this is yet another Pavilion that Mies built and/or alluded to, but can further be perceived as an interface between the archival material, Mies’ design practice and history. The resulting body of work can be dually read as the contents and/or contents page of the material. This fluidity supports the variations as to what the original Pavilion was and represents.

More important, this argument contradicts the 1986 reconstruction that presents the building as a predominantly visual archive, fixed in its usage and appearance. Hence constructing the Barcelona Pavilion archive as a cumulative tale manifests the fragmented qualities of existing material and more importantly, endeavours to acknowledge traces of use and history through the presence of historical, human and/or climatic interventions.

(1) Unless otherwise stated, all mentions of and references to the Barcelona Pavilion and/or Pavilion in this paper refer to the 1929 building, conceived for the Barcelona International Exposition.
(2) The origins of this tale can be traced to the Hebrew chant 'Had Gadyo' dated c.1590s.The work has since been transformed into an English nursery rhyme that has enabled many allusions to varying narratives from politics to parodies, expressed in numerous mediums including sheet music and pantomime.

KeywordsArchitectural Archives, Barcelona Pavilion, Cumulative Tales, Open Interpretations
Year2020
ConferenceSociety of the Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB) Annual Symposium
Web address (URL) of conference proceedingshttps://www.sahgb.org.uk/whats-on/symposium1
Web address (URL)https://www.sahgb.org.uk/architecturesarchives/blog-post-title-three-8gews
File

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Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/v006x/archiving-the-barcelona-pavilion-and-the-cumulative-tale


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