Ruin value

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Ruin value () is the concept that a building be designed such that if it eventually collapsed, it would leave behind aesthetically pleasing ruins that would last far longer without any maintenance at all. The idea was pioneered by German architect Albert Speer while planning for the 1936 Summer Olympics and published as "The Theory of Ruin Value" (Die Ruinenwerttheorie), although he was not its original inventor. The intention did not stretch only to the eventual collapse of the buildings, but rather assumed such buildings were inherently better designed and more imposing during their period of use.

The idea was supported by Adolf Hitler, who planned for such ruins to be a symbol of the greatness of the Third Reich, just as Ancient Greek and Roman ruins were symbolic of those civilizations.

Albert Speer and the theory of Ruin Value

In his memoirs Albert Speer claimed to have invented the idea, which he referred to as the theory of Ruin Value (Gr. Ruinenwerttheorie). It was supposedly an extension of Gottfried Semper's views about using "natural" materials and the avoidance of iron girders. In reality it was a much older concept, even becoming a European-wide Romantic fascination at one point.Spotts, Frederic (2003). Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, p. 322. The Overlook Press, New York. Predecessors include a 'new ruined castle' built by the Landgraf of Hesse-Kassel in the 18th century, and the designs...
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