Students in Critical Conservation pursue advanced studies in the history and theory of architecture, landscape and urbanism, including but not limited to analyses of building and landscape technologies, materials and construction, the politics of global heritage, property rights and justice, tourism, the social life of cities, the public experience of significant sites, and anthropological perspectives on architecture conflicts. Below is a sampling of recent thesis topics.
The Preservation Fallacy in the Mediterranean Medina
Natalia Escobar Castrillon (MDesS '13)
The Mediterranean cities compel a unique cultural model resulting from a clash of civilizations which incorporated and overlaid new values and purposes on earlier buildings and places without fully obliterating them. Escobar proposes a strategy that shifts preservation protocols from freezing artifacts at one period, to a flexible strategy of conservation of cultures and lifestyles. View project.
Other[ed] City: (Re)presentations of Muslim Identities in Contemporary Urban West
Somayeh Chitchian (MDesS '13)
This thesis uses spatial analysis of changing urban neighborhoods to investigate how—in a constant process of in/exclusion—the public sphere becomes the locus of conflicts through the presence and occupancy of other groups. The socio-spatial transformation processes are signs of the conservation of a culture rather than of specific architectural forms. View project.
Transformative Reuse: Rearchitecture of the Built Environment
Ryn Burns (MDesS '13)
Burns’ thesis makes an impassioned argument for sampling the city in a continual process of creative reuse for the beneficial and sustainable development of cities. It lays out an agenda for critically addressing the issue of re-architecture of urban environments, not to embalm but as the site for transformative reuse strategies. View project.
Time-Honored Versus Bigger and Better: Critical and Strategic Conservation in Post-Katrina Mississippi
Christopher L. Cosper (MDesS '12)
Six weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast design professionals met for design charrettes—called the Mississippi Renewal Forum—to plan the future of 11 coastal cities. This thesis examines the Forum’s contradictory directives—first to build in a time—honored manner, but second to build bigger and better. View project.
The Negotiated Urban Landscape: Archaeological Sites and the Multilayered City in Lima, Peru
Rosabella Vita Alvarez-Calderón Silva-Santisteban (MDesS '13)
The process of expansion and modernization of Lima during the 20th century mostly excluded the city’s rich archaeological landscape, leaving these sites without a defined role in the modern city. This thesis asks how can these places be framed and designed as meaningful, open, flexible and democratic urban and historical places. View project.