The cultural importance of architecture is as relevant today as ever. Architecture offers true insight into the values and tastes of a culture while also drawing a link back to that culture’s roots and traditions.
While historical architecture clearly shows this history first-hand, memorial and monument structures can have the same effect, harkening back to significant past events and acting as symbols of cultural heritage, celebration or remembrance.
Since the very foundations of the built landscape, memorial structures have been designed to commemorate times or people of importance. They not only pay homage to significant people or events, they also help future generations learn from earlier teachings.
Few past events have more historical relevance than those that took place on the battlefields of old.
Monuments marking these events aid in binding a culture, reminding visitors of the loss of war and what can be learned from it.
French architectural firm Bernard Tschumi architects are tackling this with their plan for the ‘Alésia Museum and Archaeological Park’ on a significant historical site in Burgundy. The building will be constructed to commemorate the 2000-year-old battle between Julius Cesar and the Gauls.
In undertaking such a task, the designers have been especially sensitive to the land – opting to not obstruct the location of the medieval town already built on the location – and their representation of the actual battle.
“The strategies of giving maximum presence to historical events and respecting the sensitive insertion of buildings into their natural environment respond to the ambition of the project while reflecting the imperative of modesty demanded by archaeologists,” note the architects.
Structures used to showcase this historical event are the already-built interpretive centre, which specifically represents Cesar’s camp, and the soon-to-be-developed museum, which will be located over the Gauls’ original stronghold.
Taking inspiration from this location, both buildings have been dsigned to at least somewhat mimic the structures built for the original battle.
“The museum is built of stones, similar in look to the town buildings but with contemporary technology, and is buried partially into the hill so that from above it appears as an extension of the landscape,” say the architects. “The interpretative center is built of wood, much as the Roman fortifications would have been at the time of the siege.”
Vegetated rooftops further balance the built and natural environments while also lending the development a certain level of inconspicuousness.
Culture and architecture are linked in a way that is often overlooked. What starts off as bricks and mortar can become a societal icon or a reminder of cultural heritage.
These things cannot be underestimated for the importance they hold to a culture both in the present day and in guiding their future development.