Anna Livia Pugholm Vørsel
Anna Livia Vørsel is an architectural historian, researcher, and PhD candidate in Architectural History, Theory and Critical Studies at the School of Architecture, KTH. She holds an MA in Architectural History and a BSc in Architectural and Interdisciplinary Studies, both from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. In her work, she addresses the material, economic, bureaucratic, and social history of buildings, looking for traces of the socio-political and economic conditions, registered and stored within their materials.
Anna Livia’s research project, Becoming Evident: material forms of knowing, looks at the material, economic, bureaucratic and socialhistory of buildings, asking how traces of socio-political and economic conditions are registered and stored in building materials, and how these can be traced through material, social and historic ruptures. The research engages with three case studies, three such ruptures. These look at different material constituents in buildings, and their relation to the bodies inhabiting them: mouldy building materials, affecting throats and noses, rumbling ventilation systems, affecting ears and bodies, and asbestos, affecting health and future uses. They represent three different architectural events: a closure and boarding up of a building, the alteration from one typology to another, and the demolition of a third. The three cases also unpack the change of use in buildings over time: the closure of a public open preschool, the change of a public preschool to private housing, and the relocation of a district administration office. The case studies are tied together in time, space and use. All are located in Stockholm, built as part of the welfare state infrastructure in the 1960s and 1970s, and affected by recent neoliberal processes of privatisation in Sweden, vacated by their original users in the years 2008-2017.
The thesis looks at these three cases, the ruptures, the buildings, and the socio-economic and political infrastructures interlinked within them, through a methodological framework of ‘events’ and ‘stutters.’ The thesis approaches knowledges, value systems and structural conditions as something that becomes registered and stored in materials over time, and looks to the ruptures, the ‘events’ and ‘stutters’ as moments where these come into view, where the material can give testimony. Through the cases, the research looks at knowledge infrastructures, critically addressing knowledge production in architecture, questioning what tacit knowledge(s) does, how it operates, and what and who it affects within architecture. Through an engagement with various sources, historic documents and ‘boring things’ in writing, the research narrates three stories of materials giving testimony to complex entangled building histories, illustrating how this can be applied as a methodology for architectural history and theory writing. Three stories about what value systems and knowledges are tied into our buildings and how these operate in practice. And lastly, three stories about buildings and the services within them that have changed in recent years, and the effects of these changes on the communities in which they sit.
The research will take the form of a monograph, using considerations of 'writing as practice', storytelling and speculative narration in situating myself as a researcher and historian against the work, and critically reflecting on its production. The PhD research is part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action project TACK / Communities of Tacit Knowledge: Architecture and its Ways of Knowing.