Tim Edensor - British Industrial Ruins

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Walking through a ruin is to experience the collapse of boundaries in which the outside and the inside merge, and nature mingles with culture. The urban-rural dichotomy is violated by the invasion of flora and fauna into the previously ordered space of urban industrialism. In the city, nature is usually confined to the controlled spaces of parks and gardens and can only flourish in the cracks and unpoliced spaces. Factories are places in which raw nature, extracted from its environment, is then transformed into something else, but in the ruin, nature appears in less adulterated form. And plants and animals poisoned and persecuted by farmers are able to seek temporary refuge from an often equally intensively policed countryside

As things fall apart, out of their remains emerge new forms of growth. Certain species are particularly partial to rubble. The black redstart, a rare migrant to Britain, made its home amongst the bombsites of London and when redevelopment covered over these vacant sites, the redstart moved home to find home amongst the weird surroundings of nuclear power stations. Plenty of other birds build their nests amongst the debris and in the formerly prohibited insides of buildings. Rabbits, foxes, bats, rats and mice, as well as smaller insects and arachnids, colonise nooks and crannies, and butterflies and dragonflies flutter amongst the quick-growing shrubs such as buddlea, which settle rapidly on wasteground. Other invasive plants include rosebay willowherb, giant hogweed, rhodedendron, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam, not to mention small birch and ash saplings. Mosses, lichens and fungus infest the damp interior spaces. Ruins thus provide opportunities for urban wildlife to prosper, creating oases of protection within the city.

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site designed by the Design & Print Unit at Staffordshire University, for Tim Edensor, hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University
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created 8/10/2002