This is not a ruin fetish. At present, an Internet search for ‘architecture’ and ‘decay’ will return splendidly glossed-up images of a dying Detroit, abandoned asylums or molding bunkers. Such photographs often fetishize architectural ageing, exalting the material degradation of a structure while a ghosted humanity lurks in empty doorways and windows.
But what if the ruin was not an end to the life of a building, but rather a site of reanimation? Long after a building has been abandoned, its materials continue to transmute in an active cycle, until all that remains is dust. It is within this active cycle that the Department of Decay discerns an opportunity to reconsider processes of decay and ruination.
The Department of Decay engages the fields of art, architecture, and science and fiction to explore all matters of material ageing. It is a platform from which to explore the processes of life and death, from which to assess the potential for re-animation in the world around us.
Above all, the Department is a resource, studio, laboratory, and play pen for the decay-minded.
The methodologies employed by the Department of Decay combine scientific and subjective observation techniques. Integral to these methods is the desire to observe 'natural' processes, but equally to question them. Design emerges as a speculative operation. The Department relishes the opportunity to participate in what Nature might yet be. The architect is then simultaneously a biologist, an alchemist, an ecologist.
Much less concerned with preservation or restoration, the Department of Decay observes how new methods of construction might be drawn from processes of material decomposition. Metabolizing materials express chemical transformations: aggregating, expanding, softening, blooming or liquefying. Observing and re-manipulating such growth processes at the cellular scale allows for visible alterations at the macroscopic scale. From these we extract and generate new forms, worlds, materials.