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Monday, November 21, 2011

Rejecting Diderot, or the comeupance of 'Ruined Buildings'

In a previous post Rebecca quoted Denis Diderot as food for thought. Diderot raises an interesting point in his writing when he discussed which buildings are eligible to become ruins. Jukka Jokilehto describes Diderot's approach in his "History of Architectural Conservation":
"The concept of a 'ruin' was related to ruins of important monumental buildings; beautiful buildings made 'beautiful ruins'! The remains of less important houses could only be 'ruined buildings'." (Jokilehto, p.52)
This is a concept we did not properly consider in our review of ruins. Diderot felt that only important, beautiful buildings could become ruins in the Picturesque sense. In our ruins criteria we did not acknowledge this idea. But I think our project must clearly reject it - we, after all, dealt with ruins of industrial buildings, ruins of mass-produced buildings, which were not 'beautiful'. Nonetheless, we found that the Rosh Ha'ayin ruins were significant and could enrich the city. Diderot's concept, while fitting with the canonical, reflexive ideas of ruins, is exactly the stance against which our project rebelled. As has already been discovered by cities that have included industrial ruins into their parks, ruins of lesser buildings can be every bit as sublime as ruins of palaces and temples.


  1. yes, we absolutely reject that idea, in our embracing of the modern, industrial ruin... although, i think we discussed this quote, beautiful buildings making beautiful ruins, i think that there is something to it, perhaps the more beautiful the building the more picturesque the ruin is likely to be...but not exclusively...

  2. i'm not sure i like the word "comeupance"... ;-)