Memories in Spaces
Buildings are memories of the past. The architectural historian Austerlitz does not simply wander and pass by spaces and buildings; he also aspires to make connections between human memories and buildings in details. The connections involve ideas, identities and emotional profiles of occupants who were once in the buildings. He notably describes architecture and specific locations such as a railway station, abandoned edifices of Terezin, fortresses and prisons in Belgium, the archive building and so on. Sebald uses such buildings as representation of persistent archive of human memory. Austerlitz does not know for certain specific ideas or visions he had in his memory, however understands and remembers being in such places. Such act of remembering motivates Austerlitz to continue his journey to fill gaps of his memories. The book is an archive of selective records of memories and histories. Austerlitz constructs narratives based on this spatial representation to create spontaneous and decisive projection of recollecting memories. There is a relationship between the archives building and collective memory that provides traceable resources. The past that is preserved in archives provide temporal values to the building which is solely a space. The mix between such temporal and spatial characteristics creates the responsibility of the archives building to provide an architectural experience that allows the occupants to explore different periods of time as they move around spaces. An archive building is a space that allows occupants to remember; therefore, the building is a great example of buildings being memories of the past. Since a building represents very specific parts of memories, not all memories are present in a building. In a way, buildings isolate memories in a spatial boundary.
Buildings hide certain memories. Occupants of archives building do not simply receive information by entering the space; rather, they go through a selective process of choosing information because the memories that they desire to recollect are hidden. In Austerlitz, the archive building itself is not only used as a piece of memory that Austerlitz uses so that he can recollect more memories, but also reminds Austerlitz of a “monastery, a riding school, and opera house and an insane asylum”(144). A monastery, riding school and opera house has one thing in common; they contain very specific and distinguished memories that are not found outside of the buildings. For example, in a chapel like Cappella della Sacra Sindone, a space built next to Turin Monastery in 1690s, a religious relic believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus. Though the chapel was solely constructed in order to store the relic, its significance of memories overpowers the simple function of the building. Guarino Guarini, the architect of the chapel, travelled extensively in order to master controlling light environment of religious buildings2 . The certain memories of the architect who travelled and studied in order to create the small chapel are vividly reflected in a lot of architectural elements of the building. Knowledge about masonry and usage of light that he gained during his travels forms a new architectural experience within the space.
“Throughout the architecture of the chapel, Guarini is seeking to create occasions for light and stone to "mix." This is played out slowly from the stairs to the dome on the chapel's surfaces: pilasters and ornaments are embedded in the stairs, then, the orders detach from the wall surfaces in the anterooms, and finally, the surface transforms into a filigree of light and stone in the dome.”1
The chapel represents a very personal type of memories of the architect. The spatial experience of Cappella della Sacra Sindone demonstrates the past memories of Guarino Guarini, the architect of the chapel who accomplished extensive research and studying of lights and materials. The