Date of Award
Master in Interior Architecture
Due to the rise of globalization, the circulation of exhibits born in different cultural backgrounds to alien places all over the world has dramatically increased. Cultural contents are re-contextualized and shaped in a way to adapt to new environments where they lose their essence of place and risk stereotypes of distant cultures. The looming question over every exhibition is how, and to what extent, the original context of the objects on display will be acknowledged or reproduced. Should an effort be made to place pieces in a convincing approximation of their culture of origin? Or should objects be returned to their original setting altogether, rather than displayed in a completely foreign place? In exhibition design, the decision whether to reconstruct the context in the new environment or to return the exhibits to the original context has become central. However, an even greater challenge: if an exhibit inherently contains a complete context, how do you guide the audience to walk into it, understand it and remember it by taking advantage of the original context? The process of curating and displaying culture cannot be disconnected from its site of creation, especially if the object of display is Architecture which by definition embodies the site.
The Baiwanzhuang, a 1950s historical community housing in Beijing which remains within its own context and spatial environment, will be considered as a case study for dealing with the issue of de-contextualization of culture in architectural terms. The goal is to design a "diffuse museum" in situ to exhibit the urban fabric, the historical architecture, the social framework over time, the contemporary cultural environment, the genius loci of place. Visitors will be guided through a new navigation system in the residential area to explore the highlights of the exhibits in the whole community from the outside, in dialogue with the larger urban fabric, to the inside, revealing private apartments. The contents of the exhibition will also discuss the design and history of the residential area and the residents' lives and livelihood changes over time.
In this thesis, the audience is not only given certain guidance in the process of visiting, but also has the freedom to move through the complex at will. In the process of exploring the site, the audience will slowly encounter this fragmented exhibition. They will interact with the residents in an unpredictable way, and even live in the participatory exhibits. Utilizing the residential area as an urban scale “exhibit,” creates a situation where all visitors, residents and stories that happen here become part of one context. Among the whole exhibition, the relationship between visitors and locals will also be a concern. Communication will happen in between through multi aspects for sure, and the intention of creating opportunities of communicating is also a key point in this thesis.
Mu, Yiran, "Getting closer : exploring re-contextualization in exhibition" (2020). Masters Theses. 537.
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