This thesis derives from a personal interest in the relationship between archives, preservation and institutional buildings, as well as its ethical and pragmatic potentials for contemporary culture and architecture. Particularly, the thesis proposes an addition to Port Francs, a confidential building in Geneva, Switzerland, that stores art and other valuables of an estimated value of €100 billion euros. The addition will be situated in Basel, a city with a strong art scene.
It is not a secret that Switzerland is a host to many confidential buildings. Switzerlands known political neutrality has long offered a field of persuasive gestures that denote stability and security to the many wealthy speculators willing to store values in Swiss lands. Amongst these confidential facilities, there are archives with valuable artefacts inaccessible to the public. Within these buildings, art, culture and history are privately owned and preserved, while their value increase parallel to stocks and market fluctuations. Essentially the objects, here representing a cultural value, behave as a financial asset as well.
The proposal revisits the archive as a cultural institution proposing a new archive typology that critiques the current state of confidentiality and speculation, and discloses the act of concealing. The building proposal will address both programs; the confidential archiving of values and the public experience of such secrets. Furthermore, the proposal strives for a productive meeting of the conflicts that may occur when ethics, economy and culture overlay.
I believe it is appropriate to re-instate these buildings as public institutions, thus giving something in return for their privileged behavior. As an architect it is important to engage with these issues. Furthermore, I believe the values, documents, cultural objects, and the people working with them, deserve a better architecture.