Anouk Ahlborn
Inter 13
1. Michelangelo, The Virgin and Child with Saint John and Angels (‘The Manchester Madonna’), 1497, tempera on wood, 104,5 x 77 cm (original), National Gallery, London

As one of Michelangelo’s earlier works of art, the painting is left unfinished. The pictorial void consists in the blankness of the painting, the use of the colour of the canvas (primer) and the sky, to sketch out the figures which are meant to be rendered with layers of colour.

2. Erased Michelangelo
The undoing of the act of painting through graphically removing the layers of colour and turning the painting back into a sketch of void and sky leads to a technique of abstraction through erasure suggesting the impossibility of removing all traces. The revealed canvas offers a new ground for possibilities.

3.Traced Michelangelo
The drawing exercise of tracing the outlines of the layers of colours helps to understand the areas of density of information and void.
Political layer:
_Square Mile boundary map
_excavation sites studied in the Museum of London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre

Economical layer:
_present-day City of London
_area of study (site)
_river Thames

Infrastructural layer:
_road network and railway lines
_underground network (crossing of)
Tube - Northern Line
Tube - Central Line
Tube - Circle and District Line

Geological layer:
_topological map (contour and tide lines)
_Thames‘ hydrogeology (river bed)
_Walbrook Sewer
_Fleet Sewer

Archaeological layer:
_map of Londinium with Roman road system

Base layer - ground zero:
_ancient river Thames with tributariesRapid processes of ruination suggesting the regenerative effects of 'creative destruction'

1. Map showing the overlapping moments of destruction during the Great Fire, the Blitz and current construction sites suggesting the process of destruction, recreation and growth.

2. Series of Google/Bing top views on Foster + Partner’s (de-)construction site of the Walbrook Square Building and Bucklersbury House enabling the development of a new 500,000 sq ft European headquarters for the American media company Bloomberg, majority owned by the current Mayor of New York City. 

3. Reference:  Joseph Gandy, Soane’s Bank of England in Ruins, 1830

Video of the excavation hall of the Kolumba Museum by Peter Zumthor in Cologne - on vimeo:
The video of the transformation of the physical model shows that the tendency of addition and removal is the process of dealing with the void (here understood as the space between two planes). By playing with the relationship between terrain (plaster cast) and ceiling (metal sheet on steel frame) by building up and down the footprints of the ruins of the excavation hall by adding cut pieces of wood, metal and additional plaster elements, the void becomes a space for new possible conceptual and physical arrangements. Differentiating from an empty space in that it is not only bound to the physical boundaries, here the process suggests potentiality of 'gain' or 'loss'.'London’s Square Mile is shrinking faster than any financial center in the world.'  (Bloomberg. Jan 17, 2012)

'When the lions drink, London will sink
When it’s up to their manes, we’ll go down the drains
When the water is sucked, you can be sure we’re all … in trouble' (British saying) 
Testing the erasure of the urban fabric through ruination and flooding:

1. Bird’s eye view on the City of London in its actual state, 2011

2. Bird’s eye view on the City of London in ruins

3. Bird’s eye view on the erased City of London (referring back to the painting study of Michelangelo’s 'Manchester Madonna')

4. Bird’s eye view on the flooded City of London leading to the Bank of England

Video on vimeo:
excavation of the Walbrook Sewer on site
'When I look at water I’m entering into an event of relation. Rather than an object, water becomes a form — of consciousness, or time, of physicality, of the human condition, of anything I desire to project on it, of anything I want it to be.' (Roni Heron, b.1955)

The revealed Walbrook sewer will force the city to reorganise itself in space and time and act as a catalyst for the creation of space for new possibilities in the dying City of London. 
The river is divided into three parts marked by locks controlling the water levels: 
1. Mouth of Walbrook meeting the Thames; 
2. Middle Port and Temple of Mithras; 
3. Bank of England. 
The river edge, retained by an inhabitable concrete wall, the old and modern ruins can be 
programmatically used for recreational, communal, educational or professional activities. 
Since the bankers are leaving the City of London to work in Canary Wharf or international cities, the new pockets of space can be occupied by artists, fishermen or craftsmen and will eventually lead to the reinstallation of some sort of guilds in the historic core of London. 
The walking paths, platforms hovering over the ruins and steps make the river accessible and may entail new kinds of floating programs relieving the dense and compact urban environment. 
Besides, the flora and fauna flourishing along the water will entail biodiversity and improve the living environment. 
The City is erased to its base layer and new life will settle.Bird’s eye view on the revealed river Walbrook showing areas of ruination, biological and programmatic diversityPlan showing the materiality of the Thames, the retaining wall, additional structures and flooded ruinsSectional perspective looking downstream on the south bank of the river Thames showing how the revealed river Walbrook might merge old ruins, the solid concrete retaining wall and the modern ruin, allowing space for programs acting against the monoculture of bankers in the City of London1. Photographic palimpsest of the Bank of England

2. Excavation and construction site before the flooding the Bank of England

3. Revealed river Walbrook at its original location near the Bank of England