After Effects: Tiny Buildings Reclaimed by Nature’s Touch


Dilapidated buildings, overtaken by moss and time, can turn architecture into unintentional art. But there is nothing unintentional or aged about these fascinating houses. They are the inspired work of Daniele Del Nero, a Spanish artist who turns ordinary scale models of homes into ethereal works of art that look as though they have been abandoned to the elements for centuries.


Surprisingly, there is only the most delicate foundation to these artificially aged structures. Rather than the solid wooden bones of actual homes, these tiny buildings bear hollow interiors. They are made of black construction paper, carefully cut and sculpted by the artist who has a background in architecture and engineering.


The models are moistened, then dusted with flour and seeded with mold. From there, it takes surprisingly little time for the models to turn into ghostly echoes of their former selves.



The mold feeds on the layer of flour, expanding and consuming every available inch of the paper surface. It acts as a catalyst for quick and overwhelming change, transforming the simple paper houses into decrepit old structures that appear to have been abandoned for many, many years.


After planting the mold and encouraging it to grow, Del Nero places the little houses into plexiglass boxes. The mold quickly covers the paper and then dies out, leaving a spooky, dusty covering of what appears to be great age and sad neglect.


According to the artist, this series, entitled “After Effects,” is a commentary on the impermanence of our urban spaces. Although we see cities as immovable, permanent places, nature begins to reclaim them quickly and without mercy when we step aside. Although his works display this on a very small (and very stylized) scale, we have seen similar rapid aging of real-world buildings and cities as well.