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on ruins (1).

1 Apr 2011

[Red Hook, April 2007, taken with the pinhole camera]

Low Readership Fridays!   I’ve been mulling over some questions for a few months now re: what constitutes a ruin.  And since, based on my site stats, it appears that everyone is elsewhere, I figure I’d take advantage of the relative quiet on the blog to mull out loud: 

– Are ruins spaces that no longer serve their original purpose, with no hope for repurposing within their original confines (that is, architectural footprint or structural parameters)?  

– If something that was a ruin then gets rebuilt as something else, what becomes of that ruinous state?  In that case, “ruin” is something of an inbetween space: The building was in ruins before it got rebuilt as condos.

– So then: does “ruin” define/delineate an edifice or a situation?   Put differently: is a ruin a thing or is it a condition, a state of being?

Of course, on some level, it doesn’t really matter;  maybe you know a ruin when you see it.  But I’m just trying to flesh out the kind of ruins that move me, the ones that make me cock my head and wonder about the state of the city, or what it means to be a city (or a nation, for that matter).  Or, I suppose, how a city/nation defines itself by the ruins it maintains — and so, if we think about ruins not as particular buildings or spaces, but as a state of being, can we then think about the sorts of calculus involved in city/nation-identity?  What kinds and levels of decay are permissible — and perhaps necessary — in considering urban growth?  And what do we want that ideal decay to look like? 

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