Robin Hood Gardens- Palimsest
The graphic novel as an interdisciplinary conservation
method in architectural heritage.
When we protect old historic buildings we need to access their history. By translating a specific architectural conservation method into illustration, I hope to create an entirely new way of talking about history in architectural heritage.
As part of my PhD research by design, at the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, I am examining a specific Hungarian conservation method (falkutatás) that uncovers the different historical layers within the walls of a building, as a means to narrate the history of that building. However through the process of uncovering each layer within the wall, more recent historical layers are paradoxically destroyed. Therefore the role of the historian in connecting the layers to narrate history becomes central to this method.
Building on my own practice as an illustrator I consider the graphic novel as a contemporary Book of Hours, a type of medieval illuminated manuscript that has formed an important role in the development of landscape painting, to narrate the history of a site. I integrate and juxtapose pictorial and textual elements through practices of montage and reportage. My methodology is inspired by Jane Rendell’s Site-Writing.
My architectural case study is the East London housing estate Robin Hood Gardens, which was refused heritage listing in 2009 and 2015 and has been earmarked for demolition scheduled to start in 2016 as part of a local regeneration scheme. Thee estate consists of a garden on a mound, formed from the waste of the demolition of previous buildings on site, enclosed by two concrete blocks. My research focuses on this garden to explore the different temporalities produced through the drastic transformation of the site: from the ruins of homes to a garden for social housing and then to the new development.
Judit Ferencz is an MPhil/PhD student in architectural design at The Bartlett, UCL. Her research has been awarded the RIBA LKE Ozolins Studentship. She studied illustration and animation at Kingston University, and art history at ELTE University, Budapest. She is a part time illustration tutor at City Lit and The Cass.