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(19-20) Restoring Broken Journeys

Masters thesis
Academic year 2019-20, Ghent

Promotor: Gisèle Gantois

Case: The City of Ypres

With the central theme of ‘Restoring broken journeys’ this studio will look at heritage and history in a different way, tracing an arc from past to present towards the future and will investigate on how journeys, narratives and lives are closely entangled.

From 1914 to 1918 it was war that disrupted people from their daily journeys in Ypres. Today it is the focus on memorial tourism that chases local people from their lived environment. However, the drama of displaced people is of all times and places. In the light of the actual problematics of refugees and immigrants coming from all over the world the main question will be how all the different lines of walk, lives and narratives of locals and newcomers can be brought together in a lively city. How can we relate with today’s societal change and its different factors such as hypermobility, multi-territoriality, urbanisation, multiple associative and societal ties, multiple cultural affiliations? How can we define resilient strategies, considering scenarios of uncertainty?

The case of Ypres not only questions what heritage is or can be, as it concerns a complete re-built city, but also accentuates that for residents the deep meaning of this built monumental environment is not only related to its historical characteristics, but also to authentic experiences related to their daily interaction with the places.  How could Ypres deal with its heritage so that the main focus is no longer on the built structures as fixed objects but as living creatures in metamorphosis allowing ‘new memories’ of local people and newcomers? What can be the role of interactive walking in the creation of collective space and the common?


Aerial view of the city after the Great War 1914 – 1918 (Author unknown)


View the presentation here.