A Transient Archive

Situated in New Haven’s historic Ninth Square district, this archive building is designed to temporarily house damaged and threatened antiquities from regions of conflict in the Middle East. As part of a wider initiative to save endangered cultural heritage from destruction, the archive will receive objects that have been preemptively evacuated from Syria and recovered from ISIS vandalism in Iraq.

While in New Haven, the objects will be restored so that they may eventually be repatriated to their original locations once those regions become stable again. In the meantime, facsimiles of the collection will be made for permanent keeping in New Haven. As the city has welcomed an unprecedented number of refugees in recent years, the need for a new community space is as paramount as the need to store the objects.

North and East elevations

In light of the transient nature of its collection, the archive is conceived to allow the possibility of being reprogrammed into a full-fledged community space once its initial role as a conservation, digitization and reproduction centre is fulfilled. Interior spaces are thus designed to accommodated dual functions and these simultaneous programs are woven together within the building in a labyrinthine manner akin to a souk, with indents in thickened walls housing the objects in the archive as well as habitable spaces.

Conceptual elevation depicting object niches and their reappropriation

Collages depicting the transition of program over time

When the objects are eventually sent back to their countries of origin, evidence of their presence will remain in the distinctly sized niches that once held them. These might then be refilled with replicas, repurposed for community use, or left vacant.

E-W section perspective

Partial model depicting carved niches