Activate Modern Ruins!

In the search for alternatives to obsolete built environments

Activate Modern Ruins!

In the search for alternatives to obsolete built environments
An investigation of the latent potential of declining buildings and cities through emerging social practices
File under
  • # Construction
  • # Social
  • # Infrastructure

‘Activate Modern Ruins’ is an on-going investigation of declining infrastructures, abandoned buildings and cities through photographic documentation, theoretical texts and speculative projects.

The notion of ‘ruin’ has changed dramatically over the last ten years. We consider ‘modern ruins’ as the spatial manifestations of recent global socio-economic transformations. Examples include the ‘ghost towns’ such as Sesena (Spain), Craco (Italy) and Pripyat (Ukraine), abandoned infrastructure like the Hellinikon airport in Athens (Greece) and the DMC factory in Mulhouse (France), as well as vacant buildings in some of Europe’s biggest cities.

This project seeks to identify typologies of modern ruins across Europe and document their material and immaterial conditions. It extends beyond a mere accumulation of historical records. It rather engages local communities and architects in the search for alternative scenarios for the re-use of our European architectural and urban heritage.

Our vision is a collaborative European think-tank of ideas, forms and actions that bring together local stakeholders to share ideas in order to transform 'modern ruins' into vibrant and active parts of European cities. The main objective is the urban exploration, profanation and de-ruination of these ruins. The project reflects on the historical, spatial, structural, social, political and emotional values of these spaces as people assess them, challenging any pre-established conceptions.

The first step is to call urban explorers in various European cities to submit photographs, objects, drawings, diagrams, models, videos of these ruins. This collection will constitute an ‘archive of modern ruins’, which will be open-access, digital (websites) and physical (nomadic exhibitions).

As a second step, the project invites the public to visit the online archive and the exhibitions, and debate the collective ideas. This process will help constituting the sites’ ‘brief’ for local authorities, architects, designers and artists in view of future interventions.

Idea by

Dimitris Grozopoulos, Effie Kasimati, Fani Kostourou
United Kingdom
Dimitris Grozopoulos, Effie Kasimati and Fani Kostourou are architects and urban designers from Greece. After studying at different schools in Europe (AUTh, NTUA, ETHZ, Kingston, UCL), they currently live and work in London. Dimitris is editor-in-chief of and explores urban decay. Effie researches the impact of digital tools in architecture. Fani pursues a PhD on bottom-up adaptations in buildings. Their work has featured in international exhibitions, conferences and journals.

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