Demolition Sculptures, or: Sandblasting Manhattan

I just saw this at Tropolism, and was amazed: turning abandoned buildings – into sculptures.

Would you still be able to use those rooms?, I wonder. To work in them and go to sleep in them and take stairways up the legs between levels? All the while living inside this Empire Strikes Back/robotect sculpture?
The head, for instance, could be rented out as a two-bedroom flat…
“As each vacated building is subsequently recycled and transformed into a sculpture,” the architects write, “abandonment and demolition is no longer viewed as a negative process but becomes a celebration for cultural creation, urban revitalization, and identity building.”

What other sculptures of I-beams and rebarred floor plates exist within skyscrapers, from London to Chicago, LA to Beijing? A selective pruning of a high-rise’s insides, and a new skyline takes shape, pierced by breezes.
Which leads me to wonder if you could sandblast all the buildings of Manhattan into rounded landscape sculptures, rock, brick, glass, and steel ground down to geometric smoothness. Aerodynamic.
Like a rock-tumbler, turning backyard gravel into perfect spheres, eggs, and ovals, could you polish the city down to a gleaming rock park of half-abraded office towers, adjoined buildings sanded one into the another like the lips of wooden bowls – just throw the whole island into a rock-tumbler?
Sandblast new sculptures out of every brownstone.
Or could you declare war on a city not with bombs and missiles but with high-powered industrial abraders and sandblasting machines? Turn Manhattan into a smooth series of sandstone arches and contours, all of New York a hulking Utah-like world of “balanced rocks, fins and pinnacles… highlighted by a striking environment of contrasting colors, landforms and textures”?

It’s Arches National Park: Manhattan Branch. All that bedrock, geology and form released – by the geotechnical avant-garde. City sculptors. Sandblasting the torqued ruins of Manhattan; then moving back to re-colonize those polished canyons.

4 thoughts on “Demolition Sculptures, or: Sandblasting Manhattan”

  1. Yes, Yes, and they may be architects but they can’t take a decent photo, and have made a thoroughly dysfunctional website… Let’s hope someone with more imagination takes the idea and does something with it.

    Carving up old buildings is a brilliant idea, and is taking hold in any number of people’s minds. It seems to be partly about the technology available, the solidity of cold-war architecture, and the application of postmodernism to existing structures.

    No need to stop at organic shapes, and no justification for making every old building into an excuse for corporate branding Here’s one made to spec as a double arch. Familiar? Where’s Barbara Holt? James Turrell? Let’s turn them loose on Euston Road, or Broadway, or Hollywood Boulevard. Or Lagos. Perhaps if a star architect were to sculpt 3rd-world cities on the scale of Haussman it would give them a Corbusier-cum-Disney character that would bring in the tourists and boost national revenues, enhance political stability, whatever. Yeah.

    Meanwhile, If I had me one of them buildings and a super-cutter, I’d be damn sure to make soomething that would both fool and please the eye, be porous to light and impervious to wind, be festooned with gardens and wildlife, and waterslides and firepoles. I think my first shape would be that of a 50s kitsch stand, the one that was a floor-to-ceiling pole, tapered at both ends, with little shelves sticking off the middle. I’d put rocking chairs, tetherballs, and a giant shopping trolley up there.

  2. If you want to see real interventions in real buildings, search for the work of the artist gordon matta-clark. What you see in this photoshop images is what gordon has done in the sixties and seventies, spliting houses in half, cuting conical intersections into 10 stories buildings, etc. Do a google image search and find out one of the most interesting and influent artist of the XX century.

  3. Quickly, I just want to apologize if I implied that these buildings are actually up, standing around somewhere waiting to be inhabited; they are part of an architectural proposal for something that does not yet exist. They’re not “hoaxes,” as several emails have now pointed out to me, anymore than King Kong is a “hoax” because it portrays an ape who isn’t there. So: I apologize if my enthusiasm misled. They are architectural proposals. Similar, perhaps, to these, which also aren’t “hoaxes,” at least in my understanding of the word…

    And I’m already a huge fan of Matta-Clark; perhaps if you combined Matta-Clark with an avant-garde geosculptural union, then set them loose in Arches Natural Park, you’d get something like the “slow sculpture” in China Miéville’s Iron Council: “Huge sedimentary stones… each carefully prepared: shafts drilled precisely, caustic agents dripped in, for a slight and so-slow dissolution of rock in exact planes, so that over years of weathering, slabs would fall in layers, coming off with the rain, and at very last disclosing their long-planned shapes. Slow-sculptors never disclosed what they had prepared, and their art revealed itself only long after their deaths.”

    Matta-Clark, geologist. Abrader of cities.

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