Reconstructing the Archive: Exploring drawing as reconstruction through the work of Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc

Abstract of presented paper:

This paper draws on diverse practices, in fields from architecture and landscape to geology and archaeology, in order to explore reconstruction as a method of historiographic investigation and design proposition. As a primary case study, the research examines nineteenth-century French architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s radical reconstruction of Mont Blanc. The architect’s Alpine study demonstrates the use of drawing (both as the practice and the visual document) as a method of reconstruction.

Three different modes of reconstruction achieved through drawing in the architect’s Mont Blanc study are considered: drawing practice as reconstruction; the drawing collection as reconfigured site; and drawing (or in this case, painterly representation) as synthetic reconstruction. Through investigating (and reconstructing) Viollet-le-Duc’s study of Mont Blanc, the research reveals the grander narrative of order, race, power, and nation that underlies his reading of the landscape and is embodied in his practice of reconstruction.