Thursday, October 27, 2016

hold time

last year I was strolling around Lund and suddenly realised I was just by Bernt Nyberg's County Archive Annex (1971). well, I have been there before, and it wasn't even the first time since it got turned into student accommodation, but it was the first daytime visit since that encounter.

and at first I was a little upset, as a lot of people have been, or maybe not upset but I found it sad and a little annoying that they didn't find any use for the building better suited to its stark brick walls. but afterwards I thought some more about it: for a long time I have had a problem with the profession's attitude towards change and time. always caught between utopian ideals and actual execution the reading architect always encounters buildings at the moment they were just completed: spanking new and without any blemishes. of course, if you actually go to visit buildings you've read about they might have changed but then you can always compare the reality to the, almost platonic, ideal in your mind. in this way you can just ignore anything you don't like, as long as you can rationalise it as being a problem either with the execution or the occupation of the building and not in the building itself (this, of course, is if you believe there is a wrong way to occupy a building, and I would say most architects actually do).

at Mårtenstorget, just a few hundred meters from the archive building, stands Krognoshuset – a building Klas Anshelm left standing when he built Lunds Konsthall next door. this is the oldest profane building in Lund, thought to be dating from the 14th century, and a building whose layered façades I've long liked. and this is what had me thinking: if I approve of the current state of Krognoshuset can I ever justify a dislike of the changes to the archive, at least as long as they're executed in a decent way?

I realised I probably couldn't, because what I in effect wanted to do was to freeze time, to not allow change, just because I liked what was there at the moment. of course you should resist some change – the stupid over exploitation of an existing plot or the kind of renovation that only really serves to drive out current inhabitants – but resisting turning an archive building into student accommodation after it's lost its original purpose? isn't that just the kind of thing that would prevent something like Krognoshuset in 700, or 70, years' time?

well, it might be hard to imagine a contemporary building actually being around for that long but considering the means of construction, hard-fired bricks and a lot of cement in the mortar, in this case there might actually be a small chance.

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