Document Type

Thesis Prep




Fall 2018


Syncretism, Conflation, Acculturation, Sucession, Impermanence, Dislocation, Disasembling, Reassembling, Identity, Memory, Locus, Anachrony, Polysemy






In this thesis, spolia is defined as the repurposing of found artifacts or material with ingrained place identities to new building matter in novel contexts. This includes architecture remnants or fragments from sites of historical ruins, urban derelicts and artifacts currently displayed in museums.

Architecture's impermanence results in demolishment, reconstruction, or exhibition of its fragments in museums or ruin parks. Attempts at preservation often only look at the surface-level significance of these artifacts without allowing for the addition of meanings over time. While displaying an artifact in a museum or turning ruins into tourist parks directly addresses the history of the artifacts, these sites only grant the passive observation of the artifacts and fail to address the value that can be derived when we allow more active engagement with the artifacts. Actively engaging with these objects in settings beyond museums and ruins, where they are integrated into current contexts, allows us to relate to them in both personal and collective ways and thereby derives and ascribes different layers of cultural value.

In addressing the topic of how to preserve, it is important to acknowledge the reason for preservation. This thesis takes the position that the preservation of architecture is carried out in order to situate ourselves in history and to act as a physical manifestation of our cultural identity. Through the preservation of the building and its succession over time, the architecture becomes familiar and associative, allowing it to define the place it occupies.

This thesis proposes carrying out preservation through the employment of spolia. Through spolia, architecture remnants are integrated into a different context, putting forward a form of preservation without reconstruction.

This thesis contends that, although not physically representative of the entirety of its original architecture, spolia will be able to act as an instrument of locus making and identity mediation through the memory that is ascribed to the object. Embedding and syncretizing the spoliated object into a new construction makes history relevant again. Spoliation allows for progressive architecture that is not limited by history in its form and use.

Additional Information

Thesis Prep Advisors:

Maya Alam

Anne Munly


Local Input

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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