Provenance Projected: Architecture Past and Future in the Era of Circularity

Mari Lending

While provenance traditionally documents the chronological history of circulating objects, and where their origin and ownership may more easily become dubious, this research project proposes three radical operations when transposing the 18th century concept from discourses on art, archeology, and ethnographica, into architecture. Our overall objective is based on the hypothesis that the concept is ripe to be rethought on a different scale; on physical, actual buildings. We shift the focus from things that easily circulate in the market, to site-specific architectural structures, and will explore the history embedded in materials and building components: their source of extraction, related environmental issues, their production facilities, global transportation networks and the social milieu they were conceived within. Most radically, we propose to recharge the temporality of the concept: Provenance Projected consider provenance as an instrument for change, projected values, and reprogramming. 

Differently from art and archaeology, architectural provenance may be discussed as a dynamic process and as a creative instrument, applicable to understanding lost, present and future potentials of historical buildings. In architecture, provenance emerges as a cyclic and multi-trajectorial phenomenon rather than as a linear, retrospective documentation when focusing on materials and components, in lieu of the completed work. This conceptual relocation aims at reframing critical issues such as origins and authorship in very concrete ways, and to establish a number of useful tools for recycling the meaning and function of buildings, spurred by the complex relationship between thinking and doing that characterizes architectural practice. 

Based at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), this international, multidisciplinary project funded by the Norwegian Research Council, involves architects, art and architectural historians, anthropologists, artists, as well as the digital media lab Factum Arte, Madrid.


Originally posted Oct 13, 2022.

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