Architecture and fire, an archival approach to architectural conservation

Zografos, Stamatios. 2012. Architecture and fire, an archival approach to architectural conservation. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The aim of this thesis is to develop an alternative conceptual understanding of architectural conservation, which overcomes inherent problems and paradoxes that its current theory and practice is commonly associated with. To achieve this, I explore conservation through the interdisciplinary approach of archival theory arguing that listed buildings comprise the official archivisation of architecture. Through Henri Bergson’s philosophy, however, I explain that archives are also sites of forgetting thus the function of conservation appears problematic. I, therefore, re‐examine the fundamental relationship between architecture and memory by focusing on the memory of fire, as it is an element that is present from the birth until the death of architecture. Fire and its conflicting nature of temporality inform also the philosophical methodology of this research; I employ the philosophy of Gaston Bachelard who is known for his psychoanalytic work on fire, memory and fragmented time, and the philosophy of a theoretical opponent, Henri Bergson, who is famous for his work on memory and temporal continuity. Based on both philosophers, I first explore architectural evolution in regards to how buildings absorb fire, spanning from the flames of the ancient hearth to contemporary architecture, and then look into the critical moment of architectural evolution, which is its destruction by fire. Through this study, I comment on architecture in archival terms arguing that it carries with it either a reduced or a complete memory of its entire past, thus making the function of conservation fundamentally redundant. Finally, I develop a psychoanalytic approach to conservation based on Jacques Derrida’s understanding according to which archives are associated with the Freudian unconscious, and argue that conservation can result in the repression of the death drive unless the latter is sublimated. This implies that conservation policy must be adjusted accordingly to allow destruction to be part of the agenda.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Additional Information:

This record contains a redacted version of the thesis due to copyright restrictions

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


21 September 2012

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

28 Jun 2013 08:34

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:41


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