Recontextualising the Animal: A Plastinarium at Groote Schuur Zoo

Master Thesis

2014

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University of Cape Town

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The investigative driver which has motivated this dissertation is encapsulated by the thresholds and interrelationships between man, nature and architectural form. Theories and concepts pertaining to this dissertation relate to the transformation of a site, drawing on its embodied energy as a point of reference for reinterpretation. The relationship between man and nature has been investigated by looking at how man uses architectural elements and devices to best construct divisive barriers between himself and the other. The other in the context of this dissertation refers to the living creatures inhabiting nature, being the animal. By the testing of architectural strategies derived from a theoretical analysis of zoological gardens, I aim to dissect and explore the threshold between man and nature, using the narrative of my chosen site as a platform of exploration and discovery. Throughout the centuries man has constructed stage sets between himself and the other, generating a spectacle around the actor/ spectator relationship. These stage sets have changed in hierarchical composition due to social, educational and scientific influences brought about by further research into the world of the other. The aim of this dissertation is to resuscitate the life of a site by reflecting on the historical narrative at play between man and the other. I aim to achieve this by using architectural form and program as a catalyst for reinvention and transformation, this will produce an outcome that poetically reinterprets the existing site condition, into a project that has the ability to thrive and sustain social interest and activity in the context of today as well as the future.
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