Luxurious dump: wasted buildings and the landscape of pure suspension

Vodanovic, Lucia (2010) Luxurious dump: wasted buildings and the landscape of pure suspension. M/C Journal: a journal of media and culture, 13 (4) . ISSN 1441-2616 [Article]

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The Costanera Center building in the financial district of Santiago sat half-finished for months, exposing concrete and reinforcement bars contrasting with the glass-faced skyscrapers surrounding it; a banner a the site read “Icon of Latin American development”. Once a symbol of Chile soaring copper driven economy, the stalled project became an emblem of its decline after work ground to a halt last year on what would be South America’s tallest building. Conditions of labour also deteriorated as this particular project started to crumble, and workers saw how their salaries – tied to timings and targets – were put at risk and their labour was literally wasted.
This essay approaches the idea of the wasteland by looking at how this and other buildings in Chile have formed dumping grounds not of traditional waste but of half-finished structures, temporarily (or even permanently) useless forms of architecture; as dumping grounds, they have become void spaces within the city, places that people surround but not cross through, yet, paradoxically, they are very luxurious in terms of money spent and soil prices. The essay will approach the project reworking some of the ideas proposed by the artist Robert Smithson in his influential 1960s writings about the industrial wasteland of New Jersey; opposing the Romantic view of ruins, the artist proposes that these waste spaces do not fall into decay but rather rise into ruin before they are built; they are, he argues, ruins in reverse. Interestingly, Smithson links these spaces with his ideas about erosion, entropy and nature-made disasters, which also come together in the case of Chile and the devastation of its recent earthquake, a disaster that deepened the suspended state of some of its buildings. These constructions remain in a semi-permanent state of suspension, as a terrain of potentiality that could be, or not.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Media
Item ID: 10481
Notes on copyright: Free open access journal
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Dr Lucia Vodanovic
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2013 08:28
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:26

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