My powerful childhood experiences left a strong flavor in my memory like Proust’s “petites madeleines.” Consequently, throughout my life I have been drawn towards ruined spaces whether it was the wasteland of mills in Hazelwood or a neglected east side Canal Street platform. Over the years, my juvenescent fascination has developed into a desire to re-evaluate the nature of derelict spaces.
are we to make of these withered stumps of time that have become a part of the
city’s existing condition? I hope to pursue an understanding of urban decay by
conducting research that will present us with an opportunity to know what these
spaces have become, and what potential they hold.
as it currently stands our ability to decide how we should judge the potential that
voids and wastelands hold is deeply impaired. The reason being that the
unclaimed buildings and the un-authorized activities that occur in them are
generally divided by society into opposing binaries. Most often it is a
positive or negative lens that is used. One side equates urban decay with
dereliction, social decline and waste. The other side represents ruined sights
as places of inspiration, a repository of memory, generators of creativity,
places of habitation and performance. It is a limiting viewpoint that blocks
the way to inquiry (i.e. to understanding these buildings or studying their
current and potential use), and in turn prohibits growth (i.e. the
possibilities that these structures contain good or bad)—one that should be
time at the Rock has shown me that the rusting mills and deserted sooty brick
houses have great potential—one that cannot be simply seen as good (the
buildings are a beacon for creative spirits) or bad (the buildings are decrepit
and dangerous). Put another way, the possibilities that exist within these
structures cannot be divided into two groups that are separated by an
immaculate border. Instead, the two categories should be seen as distinct but
connected—an ambiguous tension in an ever-shifting realm.
type of study will present us with an opportunity to know what these spaces
have become and what potential they hold? I believe if we are to see the space
as it is, with its complex layers of interaction between the built
environments, the derelict and the wild then it is crucial to start from where
we are. One-way to address the question is by determining what kind of activity
the space invites. Ergo, my next step is to attempt to discern what types of
activities the bottom of the rock solicits.