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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ruins in Contemporary Design

We've been looking for examples of ruins used as architectural elements. Although this isn't something that one would called common, there are certain circumstances where ruins are less uncommon. We found a number of examples of ruins within parks. Seattle's Gas Works Park, designed by Richard Haag, makes use of indstrials ruins as a feature on the landscape, and even used some of the ruins a children's "play barn." In Sydney, the Paddington Reservoir Gardens by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer is a sunken garden in the ruins of an old waterworks plant. The Landscape Park in Duisburg-Nord, Germany by Peter Latz and Partners reuses a steelworks plant. Colored lights illuminate the structure, and new functions such as a climbing wall have been introduced onto the ruins. Latz also designed Harbour Island at a destroyed harbour in Saarbrucken. Mill Ruins Park in Minnesota features - you guessed it - the ruins of an old mill. France boasts the Parc du Haut Fourneau from this century and the Parc des Buttes Chaumont from the 19th century. Fundidora Park in Mexico uses the ruins of an old steel mill. Another example is the Altes Huttenareal in Neunkirchen.

We also tried to find examples of reuse of military architecture from World War II, as this is particularly pertinent to our work in Rosh Ha'ayin. At the Charles Darwin National Park in Australia, concrete bunkers are reused. Quonset Point in Rhode Island used to be a WWII naval station, and there are attempts to redesign it for new use as well. It's interesting to note that most WWII base ruins are in the middle of nowhere. In a sense, the situation in Rosh Ha'ayin, where the ruins are inside a city, is quite rare.

Other projects have used ruins for public community functions. Foster+Partners designed the Essen Design Center in the 1990s, reusing "the site as a cultural centre and to transform the old powerhouse - a masterpiece of industrial archaeology - into the home of a design centre for the promotion of contemporary design in Germany and abroad." The Bethlehem Steel Plant in Pennsylvania has been redesigned as a casino. Although I'm not certain if I consider it ruins, the High Line by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with James Corner also enter the conversation.

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