Ruin and Ruination, A dialogue with the ghosts of the city

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Virginia Tech

There are contradictory thoughts associated with ruins. Mainly when we hear the word ruin, it reminds us of glorious ancient structures that evoked an aesthetic pleasure and inspired artists and philosophers throughout the history. But it also has a negative feeling, it means to destroy to turn into decay. The former is the way that we feel about ancient ruins but our way of thinking about the ruins of modern times is different.

There are different reasons for this duality and this thesis firstly attempts to explore the reasons behind this ambivalent attitude. Secondly to answer why ruins of our own time are considered invaluable, why they deserve our attention, how their qualities can offer different ways of remembrance and challenge the common perception of history and how their existence can arouse the topic of otherness in the urban context and provide a physical space for alternative cultural activities.

The design project focuses on an early twentieth century ruin in Baltimore, Maryland. The former theater building had a relatively short period of splendor followed by several alterations and decades of abandonment and decay. Through an architectural intervention, the project aims to understand and appreciate the history and qualities of the ruined theater and integrate these qualities into the atmosphere of the new space, binding the old and the new together and at the same time, retaining the incomplete character of the ruin.

Modern ruin, Decay, Materiality, Memory, Informal history