Task 1 | Memory Room: The Fritzl Basement

The Brief: To recreate a memory room of significance, significance being open to interpretation, resulting in the room being neither purely fact or fiction.

Josef Fritzl

The Austrian father of 7, kidnapped and imprisoned his daughter, Elisabeth, for 24 years within the confines he had created in the lower recesses of his home that nobody, not even his own wife, were aware of. Using the lie that Elisabeth had run away to join a sect.

In this span of captivity, he fathered 7 children with his own daughter, one of whom died of neglect and incinerated by Josef himself. 3 lived upstairs with Josef and his wife, his reasoning to her that their daughter had left each on their doorstep, being unable to care for them. The other 3 lived in the basement.

The trauma experienced by the daughter, the children who lived all their lives in the basement and those who lived upstairs unbeknown to them that their mother was directly below them, would have faced different dynamics. The memory room created attempts to capture this disturbing scenario.

The Memory Room

Audio was used to make the model more effective, helping create the environment of the basement and the circumstances of Elisabeth and the children that the basement was ‘home’ to.  The Front elevation of the house was included to demonstrate how no signs of the horrific events that occurred within were seen externally, hidden carefully and meticulously.

The audio guides you along the model, beginning with the entry to the basement, the heavy footsteps, the mechanism of the door rattling open and closing for a door no larger than one being able to crawl through.

Moving into the central narrow room, this was to signify the emotions and perspective of the basement in the eyes of the daughter, Elisabeth. Filled with dark grunge tones and mixes of deep colours to capture her anger and distress of being there.

 

The last room is a reflection of the children that lived in the basement, for them this basement was their whole world, it was home. With warmer colours such as the vinyl flooring and the drawings displayed on the walls, accompanied by the audio, this can be imagined as if it could be any normal child in any normal room, which for them, was.

A door either closes or opens, this is left open to the viewer’s interpretation, and a murmur of crowds fades in with the loud flashes accompanied with taking photos and selfies outside the Frtizl home, turning the events that occurred into a tourist attraction.

Feedback

  • Hidden layers could be introduced and the way they are revealed could become substantial.
  • The thickness of the walls could have helped provided a sense of heaviness in the section view of the model.
  • Had the audio been reversed, would have created a disorientating timeline that provides a different route and experience.
  • The view and pace of the model and audio respectively could have made a bigger impact.
  • What about Josef Fritzl and the house’s perspective? How could they be portrayed?
  • Architecture as a witness | What happens when they decay?

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