Harvard Graduate School of Design, Fall 2017

Option Studio, Instructor: Emanuel Christ & Christoph Gantenbein

Design Research

The Making of a Contemporary Monument

"Monuments are human landmarks which men have created as symbols for their ideals, for their aims, and for their actions. They are intended to outlive the period which originated them, and constitute a heritage for future generations. As such, they form a link between the past and the future."

– J. L. Sert, F. Léger, S. Giedion, Nine Points on Monumentality, 1943

"Does it follow that the house has nothing in common with art and is architecture not to be included in the arts? Only a very small part of architecture belongs to art: the tomb and the monument. Everything else that fulfills a function is to be excluded from the domain of art."

– Adolf Loos, "Architektur", from Trotzdem 1900 – 1930 (Innsbruck: Brenner Verlag, 1931)

What is a monument today? Are monuments still being built? And if so, what meaning, program and form do they take on? The aim of our studio is to design a contemporary version of a monument in a time where the collective, the expression of the public sphere, or more politically speaking, the value of democracy are all called into question. In terms of design, the monument might be the most architectural project of all possible projects because it addresses the relationship between form and content in the most radical way. This means that the planned studio aims at exploring the fundamentals of architecture with the aspiration of combining historical knowledge with contemporary critical thinking.

(Text above: excerpts from studio brief.)

This design research leads to the proposal of the Continuous Monument for Kathrine Switzer. A series of questions are asked, regarding what we consider relevant enough to be remembered and translated into permanent architectural form. Historical and contemporary precedents of continuous monument are examined and reinterpreted. 

 © 2019 by Meng Jiang.

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