Passepartout is all about documentaries and visual stuff I find worth seeing.

The beauty of urban decay

I was recently doing some research work for a text I’m writing these days and accidentally ended up on a forum. The post that got me there had collected a series of photos from an abandoned ex-gulag place in the far away Russia. Luckily, before I closed the window, I saw the title of the website.

Derelict Places: Documenting Decay it said. Horay! Well, maybe this is old stuff for you. But me, despite a certain fascination for such places, I never ever even considered that people with the same fascination would “gather” on a website and put together their photos. Now I’m glad they did and I’m glad I know that they did.

The forum gathers a mix of photos, some professional, most of them taken by amateurs (that doesn’t mean bad, it actually means that people spot certain places, jump inside and explore). For more aesthetic and dramatic images, see Urban Ghosts.

Now what is it about these places? Is this about ghost stories? a feeling of nostalgia? a certain sense of the forbidden and untouched? the mystery that incites imagination to recreated what these places might have been like? I guess it is a mixture of all these. And a certain sad beauty.

The first picture of the collage below is actually the well known Battersea Power Station in London. Although it was built in the ’30s it has a certain “long ago” industrial air. It is the largest brick building in Europe, it appeared on the cover of the Pink Floyd’s album Animals and because I think it’s a special place, you can see more pictures of it. There has been a talk at a point, I don’t remember when, to transform it into a shopping mall. There were also rumors about making it into a theme park. Now apparently it will be bought by a huge Malaysian conglomerate multinational (what is that precisely, I’m not sure, but it’s just to get a feeling of the “hugeness” of this entity).

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