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Negotiating the Three Faces of Everest: An Architectural Wunderkammer

Annabelle Lim

- Assoc. Prof. Lilian Chee (Dr.)

The Idea and Architecture of Everest through an Architect’s Remote Journey

The Wunderkammer, a collection of things pertaining to a remote subject, works to stir up the atmospheric, the iconic, the mythical and the mundane. Its epistemology is by nature multiple and contradictory, specific and enlarging, and thus, tests the limits and efficacy of architectural representation. In this thesis, Mount Everest is adopted as the Wunderkammer’s extreme subject, and reconstructed by following the tracks of three protagonists—the Climber, the Sherpa, and the Refugee fleeing Tibet in fear of Chinese persecution.

Central to each journey is a key item. The Climber carries his/her Backpack, a vessel containing survival items for the gruelling ascent. Circumambulating the periphery of the mountain, the Sherpa uses his Mandala as a spiritual map and sign of devotion to his religion and humankind. Camouflaged by a blanket of snow, the Refugee brings along a Khata scarf as assurance for her safe journey in a perilous crossing.

The thesis regards the Wunderkammer as architecture in its most compressed, and powerful, form. It exhibits a series  of documents, drawing genres and diorama models, curated to form an analogous imaginative-critical landscape. In place of the single monumental space, Negotiating the Three Faces of Everest forwards a simultaneously shared and contested mountainscape holding  multiple meanings, particular to each protagonist. In piecing together fragments of the Wunderkammer, the idea of Everest is manifested through the interstices of things and their stories.

The Wunderkammer of the architect’s remote journey on Everest from the eyes of the Climber, Sherpa, and Refugee shows a contested yet shared mountain that holds three different meanings to each of the protagonists.

Supervisor's comments:

The Wunderkammer, or the cabinet of curiosities, has long held architecture’s fascination, primarily because of its tangibility, nearness, and speculative intrigue. Annabelle’s thesis develops a Wunderkammer for the iconic Mount Everest, a peak she hopes to scale one day. The project investigates the potentials and limitations of architectural representation to enfold facets, fascinations and stories of the Everest experience, exploring these through three overlapping but contradictory perspectives. The Everest Wunderkammer develops ‘the cabinet of curiosities’ methodologically; using it as conceptual and epistemological device to stage an affective experience of a divided mountain. The thesis also expands architecture’s ability to communicate from afar, an ephemeral, atmospheric and vast landscape.

- Assoc. Prof. Lilian Chee (Dr.)
Annabelle Lim

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