There's Beauty in Ruins

October 14 2014, by Paul Ordish

“There’s beauty in ruins”

Talia Smith

Space is limited in the city. This is especially true for Wellington because we are boxed in by hills, a harbour and a strait. There’s little room to build outwards here so we focus on maximising the space available. Build, demolish and build some more. The Wellington landscape is in constant flux.

Many of Wellington’s old buildings are earthquake prone, unsafe and uninhabited - The Riddiford building at Wellington Hospital is one of these. While it’s waiting to be demolished it gradually becomes more and more decrepit. Dirt and grime has built up on windowpanes and grass has sprouted from gutters. Nature is beginning to creep in.

Like Talia Smith said with her work Lead us outside, lead us out quietly it is easy for us to disregard abandoned commercial and industrial sites. Much of the time we avert our eyes, like we are unwilling to acknowledge this symptom of urban failure; but I think there’s an eerie beauty in this old ruin. It’s partly because it sits as part of Wellington Hospital and hospitals are a beacon of modern civilisation and society. Gleaming, white corridors and expensive pieces of technology. Some of our greatest minds at work in a place of stark cleanliness. And here on the side sits a relic, an old ruin falling into decay. I like the contrast because it makes the Riddiford building seem so much more of a ruin.

This place certainly isn’t forgotten. There are heaps of news stories about people who used to live there and their memories of it.1, 2. Still, when I walk past it I wonder about the place and how different it was. I also wonder just how much nature can claim of it before it’s knocked down.

I hope to see at least one vine up the side of the wall.