In his evocative book In Ruins (AJ 13.09.01), Christopher Woodward explores the special appeal that ruined buildings can have, especially when they haven't been spruced up too much by archaeologists, and nature is still at work. But though Woodward draws on a wide range of examples, he stops short of the 20th century. There's no mention of Duiker's Hilversum Sanatorium, for instance - one wing of which is a leafsmothered skeleton - or of a still more recent ruin, Gillespie Kidd & Coia's Cardross Seminary.
The trashed interior of Cardross (above) appears in Dan Dubowitz's Wastelands - an exhibition of photographs at Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, near Brigstock, Northants, until 10 July (www. fermynwoods. co. uk). That the idealism behind such buildings has been thwarted so swiftly is disconcerting. It makes them much more uncomfortable to contemplate than, say, the remnants of an abbey that succumbed to the Reformation, or a derelict factory from the Industrial Revolution. An example of the latter, the Murray Mills complex at Ancoats, is also in the show.
A beautifully illustrated book from publisher Flammarion, Michel Makarius' Ruins (£40), takes a panoramic view of the topic. It begins with the Renaissance rediscovery of antiquity (the monuments of Rome especially) and the varied connotations of ruins in paintings of the period. It ends with such 20th-century connoisseurs of the ruinous as the photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher - their dogged inventory of old industrial structures - and the artist Gordon Matta-Clark, who took a chainsaw to buildings due for demolition, cut through walls and ceilings, and made cellular space Baroque.
Makarius concludes that the ruin can be a spur to imagining the future, not just lamenting the past. Given that argument, it's strange there's no mention of Louis Kahn but another ruin-haunted architect, Soane, does get a look in, with JM Gandy's extraordinary drawing of the Bank of England in ruins. There is still time to see the Soane Museum's current exhibition, Wright to Gehry: Drawings from the Collection of Barbara Pine, which continues until 27 August (AJ 05.05.05).