Activating Intangible Heritage
Laurajane Smith argues that traditional approaches to heritage tend to conform to ideas of preservation; privileging tangible and physical connections between past and present. This thesis explores heritage as an experience that can be facilitated by, but not limited to these physical remains; proposing an approach in which intangible characteristics are privileged. This alternative approach to heritage employs themes of memory, performance and intangibility in order to establish a means of architectural intervention. Within this multi-sensory approach to heritage, reminiscence is achieved by formalising a historical narrative of space, visually evoking feelings in regard to memory of the site. The site of this investigation is the Fever Hospital in Mount Victoria, Wellington, an abandoned heritage building purpose built as an isolation hospital in 1919. Through multiple architectural interventions, this thesis designs the integration of this neglected, forgotten, and isolated site as a significant element of the city. Historical narrative is engaged as a tool to distil intangible conditions and preserve the sites heritage value that would not otherwise be considered. The method of this architectural investigation uses iterative design and critical reflection to test ideas of form, scale, and program. Throughout these tests light, shadow, material, and narrative are employed as mechanisms to accentuate these less tangible elements. Informed by the history of the site, this investigation explores the programs of a bath-house and public performance space. The result being a mixed-use public space that activates the site as a component within the social context of the city, while embodying a sense of reminiscence to intangible heirtage; experienced through the spatial narrative.