The Dead City unearths meanings from such depictions of ruination and decay, looking at representations of both thriving cities and ones which are struggling, abandoned or simply in transition. It reveals that ruination presents a complex opportunity to envision new futures for a city, whether that is by rewriting its past or throwing off old assumptions and proposing radical change. Seen in a certain light, for example, urban ruin and decay are a challenge to capitalist narratives of unbounded progress. They can equally imply that power structures thought to be deeply ingrained are temporary, contingent and even fragile. Examining ruins in Chernobyl, Detroit, London, Manchester and Varosha, this book demonstrates that how we discuss and depict urban decline is intimately connected to the histories, economic forces, power structures and communities of a given city, as well as to conflicting visions for its future.
Paul Dobraszczyk is a visiting lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. His research focuses on visual culture and the built environment from the nineteenth century onwards, and he is author of Iron, Ornament and Architecture in Victorian Britain (2014) and London's Sewers (2014), as well as co-editor of Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within (2016) and Function and Fantasy: Iron Architecture in the Long Nineteenth Century (2016).
Introduction: urban ruins, exploration and the imaginationI: Histories1 Post-apocalyptic Londons: imagining the death of a city2 Remnants of disaster: ruins in post-industrial ManchesterII: Explorations3 Fantasy and experience: ruin gazing in Varosha4 Disaster and memory: the ruins of Chernobyl and PripyatIII: Futures5 Urban futures, art and the imagination of Detroit6 Suspended futures: urban ruins in reverse