“killing ghosts”

If death (and taxation) is inevitable, what is the relationship of design—the act of creation—to decay, death, and destruction? Polemically, the two go hand in hand; as in death/rebirth, creation/destruction. Along these binary oppositions, architecture’s history contains a series of narratives concerning death and his friends. On the one hand, there is the inherent quality of built matter: its tendency to decay, thus we can look at building codes (which provide a normative lifespan of new construction), rules for building condemnation, and even the fetishization of ruins. On the other hand, death can be seen as a more abstract concept encompassing theological and philosophical frameworks. This dimension recalls several 20th century discussions about the ends of certain disciplines, apocalyptic premonitions, and religious modes of operating. By oscillating between the reality of death and its eschatological queries we propose a new method for re-examining two architecturally taboo subjects: death and meaning.

Killing Ghosts highlights three instances in which the notion of death has episodically infiltrated the discipline of architecture. The project re-imagines a sketch by Aldo Rossi, Minoru Yamasaki’s infamous Pruitt-Igoe complex demolition, and John Hejduk’s House of the Suicide installation. The mix of death-related media (polemic image, condemned building, performance) allows for three disparate interpretations of the plangent subject matter. Existing somewhere between an obituary and a snuff-film, these animations are characters entwined in a pseudo-Shakespearean tragedy of architectural discourse.

Comissioned for SOILED Magazine.

Project Credits

Galo Canizares
Ekin Erar