My non architect friends often enjoy teasing me about my taste in architectural dexterity by joking that I always like things that look like they’re on the brink of collapse. And they’d be right, I am often allured and seduced by buildings that have been the victim of a neglectful relationship, that are no longer able to resist the earth’s gravitational pull or that have been led astray by the roots of a feral neighbour. As long as I have not been involved in the design and procurement of a collapsed building and do not live in one, they are easy to admire as there is a fascination, a beauty, and a poetic romance about a building that has been gently teased apart by the gradual processes of time.
We are often stirred and excited by the complexity, and its resultant ambiguity, of slowly accumulated patterns of decay. Like growth lines in a tree trunk or strata in a rock formation, the complex patterns of decay reveal personal biographies and intimate stories of a building’s life, and it is the speculation and interpretation of these events that captivates the imagination.
Buildings in decay can be a beautiful photographic subject. Just type ‘buildings in decay’ into a Google image search to see the extensive catalogues of numerous photographers around the world who capture these moments of deterioration. Below is a collection of one such search.