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Buildings Must Die


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" Buildings Must Die is indeed a perverse work on architecture, architecture at its most raw and elemental, at the point of its decay and destruction, sometimes quickly, with spectacular effect, and sometimes slowly. Architecture is never fully living, and is always passing out of existence; as it makes, so what it makes is inevitably unmade. This book is a fascinating, articulate exploration of this movement of creative destruction that haunts the very project of architecture. -- Elizabeth Grosz, author of Architecture from the Outside Buildings rot. Buildings decay. Buildings die. But this sense of buildings' mortality can be a positive force, as Cairns and Jacobs illustrate so well. Out of the rubble, they have created a book of immense significance not just for the practitioners and theorists of architecture but for anyone who is interested in the ecology of habitation. -- Nigel Thrift,, Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick Buildings Must Die offers case studies and meditations upon architectural ends in the tradition of Neil Harris's Building Lives and Karsten Harries's The Ethical Function of Architecture. Yet Buildings Must Die is also uniquely life-affirming, showing practitioners how "death and waste can play their parts in architectural creativity." -- Daniel M. Abramson, Associate Professor, Tufts University, and author of Building the Bank of England: Money, Architecture, Society, 1694-1942 Of all the versions of the body-building analogy -- from Vitruvius to Alberti, Le Corbusier, Aldo van Eyck, and architects today -- few, if any, have invoked mortality as the term of comparison, as Stephen Cairns and Jane Jacobs do in Buildings Must Die. New conceptions of architectural order result from this approach: deformation is not devaluation, permanence involves perpetual perishing, and duration depends on alteration. Historically significant themes such as ruin and weathering are discussed, also topics that are particularly relevant today: disaster, demolition, and waste. A fuller understanding of endings emerges, which in turn leads to a profound reconsideration of beginnings, and thus of architecture itself. -- David Leatherbarrow, Professor of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Uncommon Ground: Architecture, Technology, and Topography

About the Author

Stephen Cairns is Programme Director of the Future Cities Laboratory at the Singapore-ETH Centre. Jane M. Jacobs is Director of the Division of Social Sciencesand Professor of Urban Studies at Yale-NUS College, Singapore.


Imagine a book on world leaders that looks at how they died, rather than their accomplishments, for an explanation of why the book's subtitle acknowledges that this perspective is 'perverse'. Despite and perhaps even because of these quirks, Buildings Must Die has the freshness of a project that takes a field and turns it on its head-or, perhaps, blows it up.

-Times Higher Education

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