MasterBuild Africa

Book Review: Buildings Must Die

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Architecture seems increasingly limited to the production of exotic buildings, with little space left for reflection on the historical and social context of the built environment, or for speculation on its future direction. 

Written by: Stephen Cairns and Jane M. Jacobs, ‘Buildings Must Die’ looks into architecture’s sole obsession with creation and production and its indifference towards the life and ultimate death of buildings. The title of the book is however not a call to discredit or demolish buildings that are obsolete or out of fashion, it is a reminder that some form of death is the inevitable fate of every building.

The authors correctly observe how buildings are seen as being alive, having a ‘skin’, a certain ‘spirit’ or ‘memory’ and how architects see themselves as sole creators of this, supposedly eternal, life. The book is subsequently one continuous exploration of architectural theories and ideas, situations and practices, related to the conditions of a building’s decline.

It actually views the processes related to the death of buildings as creative starting points, providing inspiration and new opportunities for architecture. Cairns and Jacobs therefore hope to stimulate architects to design and build with the inevitable in mind. After all, ‘without death, there is no real life’.

culled from: Failed Architecture

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