Ruin Porn: An Internet Trend That is Older than You Think

© Eric Holubow

The internet has been good to fans of “ruin porn,” providing them with a platform for sharing images and even coining the phrase, courtesy of a well-known blogger in 2009. However, the phenomenon isn’t actually as new as most people believe. In this article, originally published on 6sqft as “Before There was ‘Ruin Porn’ There was ‘Ruin Value’” Diane Pham expands on the idea of the connection between and architectural value (recently discussed on ArchDaily in an article by Shayari de Silva), delving into the concept’s surprising history.

In the hierarchy of “things the internet likes”, we’d argue that ruin porn sits wedged somewhere between Buzzfeed quizzes and cats. Images of decaying architecture conjure up unsettling feelings of tragedy and loss, but somehow manage to grip us with its intangible beauty. Whatever the cause for this may be, the thrill and enjoyment we get from looking ruin porn is palpable.

The term ‘ruin porn’ is said to have been coined by blogger James Griffioen during a 2009 interview with Vice magazine in which he criticized photographers who scouted down-trodden Detroit for provocative photos. While ruin porn is the trend at hand, decades before its arrival there was something called ‘ruin value’.

Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton / Images by Danica O. Kus

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Architecture photographer Danica O. Kus has shared with us images of Frank Gehry‘s recently completed Fondation Louis Vuitton. Labeled as a “late-career triumph” by Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Hawthorne, the sailed glass structure teeters on the edge of a Parisian water garden in Jardin d’Acclimatation. For a closer look at the building’s much-discussed structure, check out all of Kus’ images after the break.

How Serendipity Helped Make 22-Year-Old Pedro E Guerrero FLW’s Favorite Photographer

Robert Llewellyn Wright House. Image © 2014 Archives

What does it take for a 22-year-old art school drop-out to start a lifelong professional relationship with “the greatest American architect of all time”? Originally published by Curbed as “How a 22-Year-Old Became Wright’s Trusted Photographer,” this article reveals that for Pedro E. Guerrero, it took some guts and a lot of luck – but once they were working together this unlikely pairing was a perfect match.

When Frank Lloyd Wright hired Pedro E. Guerrero to photograph Taliesin West in 1939, neither knew it would lead to one of the most important relationships in architectural history. Wright was 72 and had already been on the cover of Time for Fallingwater. Guerrero was a 22-year-old art school drop-out. Their first meeting was prompted by Guerrero’s father, a sign painter who vaguely knew Wright from the neighborhood and hoped the architect would offer his son a job. Any job.

Young Guerrero had the chutzpah to introduce himself to the famous architect as a “photographer.” In truth, he hadn’t earned a nickel. “I had the world’s worst portfolio, including a shot of a dead pelican,” Guerrero said later. “But I also had nudes taken on the beach in Malibu. This seemed to capture Wright’s interest.”

Hufton + Crow Named Architectural Photographer of Year 2014

Heydar Aliyev Centre / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Hufton + Crow

Hufton + Crow have been named “Architectural Photographer of the Year 2014” by Arcaid Images. The news was announced in Singapore at the World Architecture Festival after the duo’s interior image of Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre staircase received the highest score from the judges. Hufton + Crow also received runner-up in the award’s exterior category with another image from the Heydar Aliyev Centre. You can check it out, after the break.

Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age

1. Iwan Baan Torre David #2, 2011 Image courtesy of the artist and Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Los Angeles. Image Courtesy of Barbican Art Gallery

Currently on at Barbican Art Gallery in London is Constructing Worlds, an exploration of architectural from the 1930s to now. The exhibition brings together over 250 rarely seen works by 18 leading photographers who have demonstrated the medium’s ability to look beyond simple documentation of the built world and reveal wider truths about society. Learn more about the exhibition after the break.

VIDEO: Time-Lapse Through FR-EE’s Museo Soumaya

German photographer Yannick Wegner has shared with us his latest time-lapse exploration through the Museo Soumaya. Designed by FR-EE / Fernando Romero Enterprise, the 150-foot structure has become iconic in ’s Polanco district due to its sculptural physique and scale-like skin of 16,000 mirrored steel hexagonal tiles.

Stills of the museum, after the break…

APA Awards: James Ewing’s Matrimandir Photograph Places First for Architecture

The Matrimandir in , India designed by Roger Anger and Mirra Alfassa was constructed between 1971-2008. The inner chamber contains a meditation hall which houses the largest optically perfect glass sphere in the world. is an international peace community founded as a project of the Sri Aurobindo Society in 1968 with the endorsement of the Government of India and UNESCO.. Image © James Ewing

Brooklyn based architectural photographer James Ewing has placed first in the American Photographic Artists for architecture. The image, as Ewing describes, “was created to describe the verdant landscape that surrounds the Matrimandir and the community of Auroville.” 

“The land was in an advanced state of desertification when the Auroville project was started in the 1960s. Heavy erosion had removed most of the topsoil and left a barren scorched earth. Through many years of careful engineering and land management Auroville has created a lush, wooded, garden city. I sought out an elevated vantage point that allowed me to present the building in context with its landscape. The building without the landscape would only be half of the story. The cyclists in the foreground show scale and provide a contrast between the familiar low-fi technology of the bicycles and the fantastic sci-fi form of the Matrimandir itself.”

Are Abandoned Constructions the Ruins of Modernity?

© Sam Laughlin

Europe‘s ancient  are numerous: Pompeii, the Parthenon, the Colosseum – but what about new ? Skeletons of incomplete buildings now litter the skylines of European cities. A form of memento mori, these abandoned constructions prove that no structure is permanent or impervious to the changing desires of a society in flux. English photographer Sam Laughlin documents the creation of these ‘ruins’ in his series Frameworks, a contemporary dissection of the aging built environment.

Enter the abandoned world in Frameworks with more photos and info after the break.

RIBA To Launch Retrospective of Edwin Smith’s Photography

To coincide with the opening of the Royal Institute of British Architects ()’s new Architecture Gallery at their headquarters in London’s Portland Place, the first major retrospective of Edwin Smith will open next month. Smith, one of Britain’s foremost 20th century photographers, was considered a master of capturing the essence of the places, landscapes and buildings he documented over an extensive career. The exhibition, entitled Ordinary Beauty, will display over a hundred carefully curated black and white images from a collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints donated by Olive Cook, Smith’s widow and collaborator, to the .

Beyond Ruin Porn: What’s Behind Our Obsession with Decay?

Historic mill city ruins in downtown Minneapolis. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC License / Joey Lax-Salinas

Lately, architects are sharing an increasing captivation with ruins. As our technologies for envisioning the buildings of the future become ever-more accurate – enabling us not only to walk through, hover over, and inhabit walls, but also to calculate exact quantities of materials, structural load capacities and costs – our fascination for ruin, a process that is governed by laws of nature and time in a manner that is spatially unpredictable and rarely uniform, has also seen a rise in popularity.

Blogs such as Ruin Porn, Abandoned America and Architecture of Doom draw from a recent sub-genre of , identified as ‘ruins photography’ or ‘ruin porn’. While buildings can go into decay for many reasons, these images tend to focus on urban decay, especially in cities such as Detroit, Chicago and Berlin, which saw a surge of industrialization in the last century that has since dwindled.

World Photo Day: Tim Hursley by Andrew Freear of Rural Studio

Rose Lee House / Auburn University . Image © Tim Hursley

In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked 15 architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here,  of Rural Studio writes on behalf of Tim Hursley.

Architectural Photographers: Timothy Soar

Foggo Architects. Image ©

It’s clear that architecture inspires and impassions Timothy Soar - not only has the UK photographer spent most of his life visiting and capturing great architectural works, but – unlike most photographers, or architects for that matter - he also speaks eloquently about the architecture that inspires him. Describing his favorite building, AHMM‘s Yellow Building, he tells us it “delivers exquisite simplicity out of a complex lattice. The building has a lyrical poetry in the way it wraps and folds itself around the occupants – deft, confident and generous. It is one of London’s great spaces.”

Moreover, Soar believes deeply that his does more than merely idealize built forms; not only do his images enable the architects he works with to “refine and amplify” the ideas within their built works, and thus aid them in defining their next work, but it also seeks to advocate architecture for all: “My work as a photographer is predicated on a desire to [...] to be an advocate for design that elevates, to help construct an argument where good design isn’t an occasional, rare and special thing but an everyday, routine and expected event.” Read the whole interview and see more of Soar’s fantastic images, after the break

Metamorphosis in Hong Kong Documented in ‘Cocoon’ Photo Series

© Peter Steinhauer

In 1994, a routine technique that has been practiced in Hong Kong for over 100 years caught the attention of photographer Peter Steinhauer - and led him to put almost a decade of work into capturing this unique urban phenomenon. The bamboo scaffolding and fabric wrappings he photographs serve the simple purpose of catching construction debris, but at a glance they look more like works by Christo and Jeanne Claude, the artists that have made their name wrapping buildings like the Reichstag in Berlin.

The resulting photos showcase the colossal towers of wrapped in brightly-colored fabric; their usually varied facades are made monolithic, like a plastic massing model rendered full-size. Steinhauer named his photo series “Cocoons” due to the effect they create over time: the buildings metamorphose under cover and emerge transformed.

Read on for more photos of these urban cocoons

Architectural Photographers: Allan Crow

MAXXI Museum / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image ©

Allan Crow may be, as he humbly puts it, just one of “two blokes that take photos.” But Hufton+Crow, the studio founded by him and Nick Hufton ten years ago, has reached far more than humble success. The duo have shot some of the most talked-about architectural works of the last few years -from Zaha Hadid‘s Galaxy Soho to Steven Holl‘s Sliced Porosity Block to BIG‘s Danish Maritime Museum - and have been published in renowned websites and magazines around the world. Learn more about how Crow began his career as well as his favorite architecture, after the break.

AD Round Up: The Photography of Iwan Baan

Torre David in Caracas, Venezuela. Image © Iwan Baan, Image courtesy of Perry Rubenstein Gallery

After reading this great profile in the Wall Street Journal, we thought now would be a great time to round-up the iconic shots of “the Indiana Jones of Architecture Photography“, Iwan Baan. From his first commission, documenting the construction of OMA‘s CCTV Headquarters, to projects such as Herzog & de Meuron‘s VitraHaus, he has brought us some of the most enduring images in contemporary architecture. But he is also known for certain trademarks: taking time for lesser-known humanitarian projects, such as MASS Design Group‘s Butaro Doctors’ Housing; focusing on human interaction with buildings, as seen in his photographs of the Torre David in Caracas for the Venice Biennale in 2012; and his penchant for helicopter shots – which resulted in the stunning photo of Manhattan in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (read the story behind the shot here).

A Seductive Abstraction: Architecture & Photography’s Tacit Pact

Courtesy of

ArchDaily has partnered with The Architectural Review to bring you short thematic introductions to the magazine’s monthly editions.  Up now: AR’s April 2014 issue, which examines the complexities of architecture photography. Editor Catherine Slessor asks “what happens when controlled views of buildings are redefined by and adapted to new technologies?”

Roland Barthes once observed that there is no such thing as a photograph. ‘Whatever it grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible, it is not it that we see’, he wrote in Camera Lucida. What we do see is the scrutinising gaze of the photographer, which can beguile or unsettle, but should always evoke some kind of response.

As a scientific and ‘truthful’ medium, photography has served architecture well, especially in the Modernist era when the evolving medium synthesised perfectly with a new approach to design. Yet the relationship between architecture and photography is an inherently compromised one. Unlike art practice, lends itself less to searching critical enquiry, being essentially an unspoken pact between architect, photographer and publisher to render buildings in a way that discreetly flatters architectural ambition and sells copies of books or magazines.

Fernando Guerra On Photography In The Internet Age

Aires Mateus Arquitectos / House in Alcobaça, Portugal. Image ©

In this interview, originally published by Paperhouses as “Decisive Moment: Conversation With Fernando Guerra“, the Portuguese photographer details his career in architectural photography, and how he approaches the art of photographing buildings. As an advocate of free sharing and online publicity, and one of a new breed of photographers who – shock horror – likes to include people in his shots of buildings, Guerra is well placed to explain how the world of has changed over the past decade.

I do not want to call it an interview—it was a fabulous discussion that Fernando Guerra led as a loose narrative with notes on work that he practices with hedonism and filled with life. They are all stories dedicated to the great beauty of doing what one loves and letting it grow.

Read on after the break for the interview

25 Instagram Feeds to Follow Now (Part II)

Last June, we published our first list of must-see Instagram feeds to follow, but we knew it was only the tip of the iceberg. Once again we’ve scoured the web (and followed your excellent suggestions) to track down the 25 Instagrammers who will be sure to inspire – including dare-devil adventurer raskalov, up-and-coming architecture photographer nicanorgarciaand our very own editor-in-chief.

See the 25 awesome architecture instagrammers, after the break…