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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Giving Tree and Reuse of Ruins

In Deserted House, a poem by Shel Silverstein, we looked the imagery that Silverstein used for ruins. Another of Shel Silverstein's stories, The Giving Tree, is also relevant to our research. The story tells of a relationship between a boy and tree, who love each other and play together during childhood. As the boy grows, the tree gives him more and more: her apples to sell, his branches to build a house, his trunk to make a boat. Finally, as an old man, the boy returns, and the tree is sorry that she has nothing left to give. However, it turns out the the boy only wants a place to sit, which the tree can provide.

We've been talking a lot about the "life-cycle" of a building, and how most buildings can be renovated, reused, reconfigured etc. as a normal part of their existence. Some historical preservationists may choose to freeze a building at a certain point in time, to prevent further changes. However, this is an unnatural act. Rather, a normal building would continue to evolve. It may also continue to decay. At a certain point, the building passes a point of no return, a threshold beyond which it is a ruin and is no longer an active building. However, even as such, it can still continue to serve the needs of mankind.

Buildings are built to serve our needs, both as individuals and as communities. Like the tree, they can be used and reused. Even as a ruin, they can continue to serve a purpose.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you.
    I hope to turn an old foundation into a raised garden plot. This is just the inspiration I need! If I get access to the property and the funding to do so, etc. I will be sure to have some photos!