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In October of 2018, our intern architect Ryan Lee had the opportunity to present at the National Trust Conference held in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The conference theme was “Opportunity Knocks: Heritage as a Social, Economic and Placemaking Force”. While urban architecture is constantly being built, erased, and rebuilt again, there is opportunity for the traces left behind to be read and re-used in future designs. Today’s new designs disregard these traces of the past, or ‘palimpsest’.
Ryan’s presentation focused on palimpsest as an alternative method to preservation and its use in architectural practice. His intention was to explore not only how to preserve existing historic layers, but how to encourage the transformation of new layers in the future. The presentation aimed to address questions such as ‘Which layers should we preserve/forget?’ and ‘What is the nature and role of historic sites in cities today?’.
The preservation and renewal of historic buildings may be seen as an obstacle to the future of the city, however these buildings hold great meaning for residents. Preservation in architecture often fails to consider the palimpsest that exists. By finding ways to preserve existing traces of the past, not as time capsules but as palimpsests, new layers of meaning can be added to architecture.