The aesthetics of decay have been well versed of late, not only within academic literature, but also mainstream media and online via blogs and other social media. We have seen an aquarium in an abandoned shopping mall in Bangkok, entire disused airports in Cyprus and an whole abandoned island used in Hollywood blockbusters. Industrial, residential, infrastructural, rural; there have been a plethora of forms of dereliction that have been recorded. The huge swath of media (sometimes labelled ‘ruin porn’) has led to the fetishization of dereliction with some suggesting that such overt ruination imagery has had damaging effects on particular places that are oft the focus of such narratives, notably Detroit.
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Recently, I was lucky enough to spend some time in the Shropshire and Cheshire countryside, and came across what on first viewing looked like an abandoned, disused factory, perhaps once used for chemical production of some kind (I had trouble recalling my GCSE chemistry lessons). Upon closer inspection, the site did indeed have a ‘ruined’ factory. The redbrick façades were punctuated by shattered windows that allowed the old pipework, and inner-workings of the factory to be exposed. Nature had clearly began to reclaim this building, as shrubbery and invader species were rife on the walls, the roofs and throughout the old passageways between the buildings. The high industrial, temporary fencing that are synonymous with ‘danger, keep out, abandoned building’ sites was stationed around the decaying buildings, and had it not been for the family waiting impatiently in the car while I indulged in ruination geekery, I would have attempted to get beyond the fencing to explore further. Other typical ruination aesthetics were in view, with the exposed metal work rusting in the damp North West climate. Continue reading