Dotted across the globe sit, ramshackle, dusty, sometimes dangerous, sometimes beautiful, often unloved abandoned buildings. Wrecked and rotting, our forgotten buildings take on narratives heavier than if they were occupied. Sometimes these are cottages in the countryside, abandoned when the farmhands got pushed out by tractors or ghost towns of all sorts where broken dolls and empty beer cans mix with the dust and broken glass, to bigger buildings iron smelters and insane asylums, fortresses and coal mines, these buildings, sometimes built at great expense and sometimes simply beautiful as buildings have served their use, but exist in a part of the world where movement for whatever reason is slower, sometimes abandoned buildings sit in limbo because their caught in protracted court battles (see Dickens' Bleak House) or because it's more expensive to tear them down than to let 'em rot until the land is useful again. Anyway you cut it, the landscape is populated by ghosts of humananity's past endeavors, since failed.
In Europe you leave a nice building without people and chances are people will find it, and the stories if any will change dramatically with graffiti and punk bands, teenage squatters and middle aged shooting galleries. The buildings in the countryside in many ways take on the most ghostly presence, as the chances of their rehabitation, even by squatters, are minimal
The Opacity blog documents dozens of building in Europe and North America in states of beautiful decay, collapsing in on themselves, former mental hospitals and prisons, these grand edifices made of brick and steel for a permanence of the ages along with the giant industrial factories are the most breathtaking. One feels like a civilization, not so far away or different from our own, has collapsed. Creeping through these crumbling structures makes one feel as if some lesson about human frailty is to be learned, though often the approach is not unlike Romantic poets about empty abbeys in the 19th century. Sometimes this poetic becomes research, like the case with Industrial Archeology, but we at CIA feel there's nothing wrong with being a little poetical.
Though Opacity has many beautiful photos, the blog also links here to dozens other sites devoted to abandoned buildings.
Posted by Check In Architecture at Friday, May 16, 2008