Transformation on Abandonment: Toward a Critical Practice in Preservation of Rural Identity

By Mo Michelsen Stochholm Krag.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: September 26, 2016 $US5.00

While the major cities in Denmark experience population and economic growth, the villages in surrounding rural areas face abandonment and decay. Today’s widespread EU and state funds for demolition of abandoned houses generally emphasize the rapid eradication of cultural values under the guise of state-authorized cleanup projects. This paper outlines a research project on the increasing quantity of abandoned houses in the depopulating rural villages, and it reports on how an attempt is made to establish a counter-practice of radical preservation based on a series of full-scale transformations of abandoned buildings. The aim of the transformations is to reveal and preserve material and immaterial values such as aspects of cultural heritage, local narratives, and building density. The responses of local people are used as a feedback mechanism and considered an important impact indicator. Eleven transformations of varying strategies have already been prototyped at full scale in various rural villages. The paper focuses on two of these strategies “the controlled ruin” and “the re-encoded remnant.” Bringing in examples from Sicily, it seeks to contextualize the emerging research practice to three different preservation strategies, which were undertaken contemporaneously after the earthquake in the Belice Valley in 1968. In short, previous studies on consequences of depopulation mainly focused on creating economic development in rural areas; this study seeks to explore, identify, and subsequently activate embedded values in abandoned houses. Transformation prototypes are tested as present manifestations in rural villages as an alternative way to preserve buildings as well as memories.

Keywords: Transformation, Rural, Abandonment

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.1-17. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: September 26, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.410MB)).

Mo Michelsen Stochholm Krag

Ph.D Fellow, Research Department, Aarhus School of Architecture, Aarhus, Denmark