Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ghost Structures 01


(image source:

(image source:

'VACANCY VACANCY' were the lyrics that riddled our previous post. Digressing on this, we're dropping down a series of posts that explore further examples of urban abandonment, and the resurgence that unpredictable parties can inject into these spaces.

First up are the metropolitan carcass's. As obscene as it may seem, the abandonment of a building, mid construction is a relatively common occurrence. The context of this story is Bangkok and the effects that the 1997 Asian financial crisis had on it's urban structure.

In the midst of an over inflated economic bubble, Thailand's economy was obliterated by the crisis, and business's and savings accounts vanished. Subsequently, half built fields of sky towers, and miles of concrete skytrain tracks were abandoned, and remain so 12 years on. Many of these ghost structures lie in central city hubs on prime real estate, and are slowly deteriorating as it continues to be exposed to the elements. So the question is, what's been happening to them?

Well, it turns out that in some cases, communities of squatters have been secretly hiding in them.

Francoise Roche describes this type of phenomenon as a 'city necros'.

"It’s the first city in the world that has introduced the necros of the building – exactly like a forest, where when the trees die, the trees die, and other trees could grow over the trees that died. Bangkok is like that...The city is an ectoplasm which is growing over itself, without the idea of preservation, and without the idea of propaganda, or of controlling the design."

In a hop scotch out to a neighboring suburb, an abandoned half-built housing community has become home to 1500 squatters, and 10 domesticated elephants. So it turns out that the lost dreams of a developer, turned out be an 'unexpected opportunity for some of Thailand's poorest'.


Picture 3

(image source: by photographer Brent Lewin)

With the full impacts of the current global economic crisis arguably yet to come, there has been a prolific increase in the number of building projects that have gone on hold. Many of which are located in highly desirable urban locations, and Auckland certainly has no shortage of such opportunities. We're not saying lets build a squatter village in a high rise in Auckland, we're in a different context. But is it possible in our society to engineer a solution of a related thread?




source: c-lab

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