Reconstructing Nature

David Gissen

Published in "Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions", 2013

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Piranesi introduces the idea of architectural reconstruction as a kind of agitation. In other words, Piranesi’s engravings were a statement about what Rome once was—but they were also a statement about what cities might be based upon our selective interpretations of the past.


“This idea of reconstructing nature—bringing back a nature that once existed but is lost—is, in a sense, embedded within the history of architecture and, thus, within the potential work of the architect.

I prefer the term agitation—as a kind of a pinprick to his contemporary architectural audience.”

Extract from History’s Apparatus, David Gissen interviewed by Geoff Manaugh.
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The temple of Dendur, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York © Geoff Manaugh.

“Within this space and the other additions to the museum”, David Gissen writes in his essay “The Architectural Production of Nature, Dendur/New York,”the technologies of preservation were on display as much as the work within”.

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Reconstruction of a floating bath house in New York City; model by David Pascu (1999).

“The idea was to reconstruct the building through drawings, photos, and models to enable debate, protest, and discussion about the position of the river in the experience of New York City,” Gissen explains.


Extract from
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Related publications:
Bracket 1 [on Farming]
Bracket 2 [goes Soft]