An abandoned five-story apartment building in Taipei, Taiwan is the unlikely setting for an unusual learning experience. It is the home of Ruin Academy, an interdisciplinary research center that studies the “Third Generation City,” or the ruins of the industrial city. By incorporating a number of disciplines and a mixture of research topics, the Academy explores and celebrates our modern man-made ruins.
While the research topics covered by the Academy are fascinating on their own, the building in which the research takes place is just as unique. All of the windows and interior walls have been removed to allow bamboo, trees, fruits and vegetables to grow freely. Six-inch cylinders of the exterior walls and ceilings have been cut from the buildings to let the rain inside.
Dormitories were constructed from mahogany for professors and students to sleep in. They call it a voluntary refugee camp, which the building does resemble until you reach the fifth floor. There sits a public sauna which Academy dwellers call the “best in the Pacific.”
The Ruin Academy students take their cues from the urban jungle, focusing on re-organizing the industrial city and rearranging the way that humans interact with their environment. Workshops offered by the Academy include Urban Acupuncture, Anarchist Gardener, Ultra-Ruin, River Urbanism and Compost. According to the group, the Third Generation City is a mixture of nature and man-made construction.
In essence, it seems that the group is actively looking for that process which is normally very slow and unchecked by human interaction: the ruination of a human dwelling place. They do not participate in the downfall of the city; rather, they look for places where urban ruins have already gained a slight foothold and they seek to help it along. Far from being agents of destruction, they are scholars and architects who are looking forward to the next stage of the urban existence.
(all images via: Nikita Wu)
Taipei, according to the “constructor-gardeners” of Ruin Academy, is the perfect place for this project. The city is increasingly dominated by official industrialism, so constructing an artificially natural indoor garden in the heart of the city is the perfect way to begin pushing this urban environment toward the organic.