The Aesthetic of Decay
2011 University of Cincinnati Thesis Project
This project consisted of a written book and a graphic presentation. The book can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking the image to the right. Below is a gallery showing portions of the graphic presentation. The gallery is divided into groups; each group consists of research photos, analysis, and example designs for each phase of the reoccupation/renovation. The thesis abstract follows:
There is a specific aesthetic that exists amongst architecture in the absence of routine human interaction; it is the aesthetic of decay. This aesthetic develops over time, as buildings cease to function in the way they were originally designed to do so. As this happens, such buildings become leftover, forgotten spaces that go unseen by the bulk of society; they are left to minor, often illicit alternate uses.
This makes the task of explaining the aesthetic rather difficult, and extra attention must be paid to the methodology that best accomplishes that task: photography. Photographs tell the tale of what these spaces are, in the clearest and most straightforward way. An exploration through photography coupled with a secondary level of exploration into how the space came to be, is capable of informing a reactionary exploration into what the space can become.
The goal of such an exploration is to not only understand this, but also to exploit the individual elements of it in order to inform an architectural approach. The aesthetic of decay has developed over time, and alternative uses should do the same; minor issues have drastically affected the decay of the building, and minor interventions will likewise affect the function of the space.
Phase 1: Guerrilla Occupation
Photograph of the first phase of reoccupation with a key element (art application) taking place.
Phase 2: Ambiguous Occupation
Photorendering of the second phase of reoccupation, showing an outdoor market concept.
Phase 3: Sponsored Occupation
Photorendering of the third phase of reoccupation, showing a minimal office space.
Phase 4: Complete Occupation
Photorendering of the fourth phase of reoccupation, showing the streetscape of the renovated building.