In the UK we have a very emotive relationship to our buildings. Prince Charles and his passion for preserving heritage juxtaposed with someone like Norman Foster, who has been widely credited with bringing British innovation to the international stage, demonstrate the wildly disparate attitudes that exist.
In the economic downturn, one strong measure of public confidence was the effect on house prices and house buying. News articles abounded with stories of people frustrated with being unable to afford their own pied à terre, with corresponding opinions regarding how the Government was or was not managing the situation effectively. Unlike many countries including our continental counterparts, we are a country obsessed with acquiring our own “real estate” however insignificant its footprint when compared to those who are in possession of vast country pads.
In recent floods that have ravaged significant areas of the country, one of the most devastating things has been watching home and business owners in despair as they inspect property that has been damaged or destroyed by water. The repercussions extend far beyond simply being deprived of shelter from the elements, and the most traumatic consequences are often eventually emotional ones.
That’s why this magazine article interview with photographer Marcel Heijnen was so interesting to me. It suggests a completely different approach. Heijnen poignantly portrays these objects that we project our need for security and permanence onto, as what they really are: beautifully untrustworthy, prone to modification and destruction.