Collapsing concrete colossuses, run-down overgrown skeletons, immutable architectural misfits: the outcasts from our built environment, which we are dying to dispose of - and yet cannot do without - have inspired many ghost stories, crime novels and urban legends. Such narratives reveal the significance of architectural eyesores for the people who live or work in or near them. After exploring various approaches to building lives and deaths, the author presents a rich variety of undesired edifices in Germany, Hungary, Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina and investigates the different methods used to dispose of them: eliminating, damaging, transforming or 'reframing' them, abandoning them to progressive dilapidation or virtually rejecting them. Discarding an edifice, however, need not bring its social life to an end. This analysis continues with a reflection on the afterlife of unwanted buildings, and concludes with a discussion on the life expectancy of buildings, their multi-sensory materiality and 'thingly' agency.
Melanie van der Hoorn studied Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and obtained her doctorate at Utrecht University. She was awarded the Boekman Prize 1999 for her MA thesis The Negative (of the) City: Unbuilt Projects and Undesirable Architecture in Vienna. Currently, she conducts research on architecture and comics.
List of Illustrations Foreword Chapter 1. Dragons, Tunnels, Gold and Russians: Narrative Introductions into the Bowels of 'Corrupt' Architecture Chapter 2. Between Pragmatic Clearance and Pure Iconoclasm: Theoretical Perspectives on the Life and Death of Undesired Buildings Chapter 3. 13 May 2001, 8.01 A.M. - 1 Building, 20,000 People and 450 Kilograms of Explosives: The Elimination of the Kaiserbau in Troisdorf as a Secular Sacrifice Chapter 4. Witnessing Urbicide: Contested Destruction in Sarajevo Chapter 5. From Nuclear Waste to a Temple of Consumerism: The Recuperation and Neutralization of the Ex-would-be Nuclear Power Plant in Kalkar Chapter 6. Consuming the 'Platte' in East Berlin: The Revaluation of Former GDR Architecture Chapter 7. If Not Clearing, Then At Least Thinking Them Away: The Significance of Unrealized Proposals and the Viennese Flakturme Chapter 8. 'L' like 'Left to Its Own Devices': The Progressive Dilapidation of the Kulturhaus in Zinnowitz Chapter 9. Exorcizing Remains: Architectural Fragments as Intermediaries between History and Individual Experience Chapter 10. In Fond Memory of a Rejected Edifice: Reaffirming Agency by Rehabilitating Vanished Eyesores Chapter 11. Eyesores Are Indispensable: Concluding Remarks Epilogue: Taboos on the Multi-Sensory Materiality of Buildings and Their Agency Notes Bibliography Index