This summer sees the launch of the extensive project Closer to Architecture, which focuses primarily on the conservation, restoration and digitising of design drawings. Preparations are well under way for the archival items that are due for conservation and restoration before the beginning of 2020. During investigations into the physical condition of the archival documents, we often discover remarkable items. Read more about our archivists’ and curators’ favourite discoveries.
Glass Wall Construction
Archivist Alfred Marks: ‘In post-war archives we regularly encounter drawings on tracing paper with coloured foils attached to areas of the reverse. This gives these areas of the drawing an extra accent. On the dyline, this produces a gradation of grey tones, depending on the colour and density of the foil used. While researching the use of such foils for the Closer to Architecture project, I discovered a fantastic example: a design for a glass wall construction by Jan van Goethem for Utrecht University from 1983. The artist has drawn twenty rectangles in a thin pencil line. By applying a pencil wash over the lines, the panels seem to light up. He then indicated the palette very precisely with coloured foils. And it is immediately clear why he has used this technique: the colour of the foil is exactly the colour of the design to be carried out! This is an application that we have otherwise rarely encountered in the archive.’
The Rolled-up model
The archive of architect Ernest Groosman (1917-1999) is among the most important archives from the post-war period from around 1960 to 1980. Archivist Alfred Marks: ‘Many architects have rolled up their drawings due to lack of space. While examining the boxes of rolled-up items, I came cross a rolled-up model. It is described as a ‘study for a neighbourhood design with stamps, collage card on paper’. ‘Collage’ or ‘model’, it makes little difference what we call this object. In any case, it is clear that it deserves a better storage method than being rolled up. The rolling of the paper has resulted in tension on the sheet so that the affixed pieces of card are in danger of coming loose. The best option is to flatten this object. But that is easier said than done: we placed weights on it for several weeks but as soon as they were removed it just rolled up again. It clearly requires professional help.’