Built Palimpsests

Teaching team

Andriette Ahrenkiel, Aviaja Frost, Trine Koch, Mads Bay Møller, Nacho Ruiz Allén, Katrina Wiberg, Jane Willumsgaard


Unit 2/3A + Unit 2/3B. 2017-2018. Aarhus School of Architecture


Mock Up Space. Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark




The term palimpsest comes from Greek: palimsestos (palin is again, psestos is rubbed smooth and psen to scrape) and from Latin: palimsestus, meaning parchment that has been cleaned for reuse. Palimpsest refers to any surface where some writing has been erased to make room for a new text. It is applied metaphorically in a work of architectural representation. An architect who modifies a drawing on several superimposed sheets of trace paper makes a palimpsest. By extension, an existing building that can accumulate new uses and designs is a kind of palimpsest.

By BUILT PALIMPSESTS it is our intention to create a catalogue of existing buildings with ROOFTOP ADDITIONS. Similar to the act of erasing something on a piece of paper, a hint of the old work remains persistently on the place. Although diminished in emphasis, the past can never be entirely erased. Working with an existing building means working with its constraints in addition to those arising from the new design and requirements. These constraints can act as a stimulus to the imagination, enabling architectural solutions to be developed in a way that could never have been invented from scratch. A dynamic exists between what is ‘of ’ the site and what is brought ‘to’ it.

The base and the top are framed within a ‘potential space’ where these elements are envisaged as co-creative. That is a paradoxical space of exchange and transition, a field of tension, a field of dialogue, a field of negotiation.