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Abandoned architecture. Does it scare or inspire?

03 of February '21

How to design with imagination? Find out how architecture ages? Will it overcome the test of time? Will the original functions survive? Urbex is not just an extreme tour of abandoned buildings, but a conscious exploration of architectural history.

seemingly just visiting

A direct encounter with a building that has been abandoned for some reason provides an opportunity to learn more about society and its needs. What is URBEX? Urban exploration, or exploring abandoned, hard-to-reach, sometimes invisible places. Fans of this type of architectural discovery, often do not sign their name to the documentation of their expeditions, because the discovery of such places is often illegal.

Red Urbex

Abandoned architecture often hides among the landscape as if after a disaster. Away from traffic, overgrown with vegetation, dusty. Such a sight is unsettling. On top of this, the areas where the buildings are located are often banned. Before you are persuaded to go for a walk yourself and directly absorb inspiration from the past, it is worth doing some good research. On you will find a mini-series about great Brutalist buildings that are falling into ruin. The creators take a closer look at the secrets of the impressive symbols of the Soviet bloc. From the safety of your home couch, you can explore ruins from Berlin to Tbilisi, among others, Stalin's secret sanatorium, or the tyrant's so-called UFO. Each of the seven episodes focuses on a different abandoned site. Link to the series: HERE.

Serbia: a gem of brutalism | ARTE TV

Above, one of the episodes of the series devoted to the Genex Tower skyscraper, or the West Gate of Belgrade. Designed by Serbian architect Mihajlo Mitrović, it was under construction between 1977 and 1980. The 140-meter skyscraper was to be a symbol of modern, thriving Yugoslavia. A revolving restaurant was designed on top of the building. The mechanism, however, soon stopped working....

The beautiful frames we see in the films are the work of people who are in love with discovering the past of cities and architectural ruins. They are not afraid of debris, trash or difficult access to the site.

I don't care about documentation just creative work, and as a result, the repetitiveness of many elements no longer tempts me to photograph everything as it flies, as it did a decade ago. So I photograph relatively little these days, searching only for what interests me most. Besides, the nomadic and "unregulated" lifestyle during expeditions is very appealing, sometimes resembles a good survival, adventure and has its own dose of adrenaline," says Marek Słodowski, a representative of the Urbex Poland group in an interview with
The most important thing is to have imagination and sensitivity to such places, which are not worthless objects, they are magical to some extent.

starting with Poland

Urbex Poland shares its photographs and videos on the Internet, but they do so only after the final demolition of a building, so as not to attract too many "uninitiated" explorers. Accounts of expeditions to abandoned sites, published online, often bring back the memory of the site and reactivate discussions about its status.

An example of an ongoing discussion is the building on Sobieskiego Street in Warsaw, the former headquarters of the USSR ambassadors, which was supposed to be abandoned after the fall of communism. The Urbex Poland Group created an eight-episode film documenting a visit to the building. In addition to old furniture and scattered documents, one could come across the remains of today's certainly illegal occupants. Why is the building still standing empty? Thanks to the activities of such groups, we can not only learn about the past of architecture from a completely different side, closer to its true functions, but also draw attention to a contemporary problem. The problem of deteriorating, undeveloped buildings that are a threat to the city's inhabitants and the entire landscape.

Urbex Group Poland | YouTube

We have such examples in abundance in Poland. These are Cold War remnants, such as military bases, airports or bunkers, but also abandoned tenements, forgotten churches - reportedly particularly popular with foreigners - and palaces or city basements, still arousing much excitement. Abandoned buildings are also often the focus of many extremely talented photographers. They are the mirrors of bygone times, describing society in a tangible way.

Adrenaline and mystery. Touching history.Exploring architecture through so-called urbex is appealing, but definitely not for everyone. In recent years, this phenomenon has almost become a kind of tourism. Is it possible that the popularization of urbex will accustom us to interact with abandoned architecture, tame urban emptiness, or effectively draw attention to many urban problems?

inspiration in history

Some say that in art and architecture "everything has already been done." Is this true? What is certain is that history gives us an infinite amount of inspiration, and it is worth going to more than just books for it. Hidden in inconspicuous, abandoned buildings are hints to the questions designers are asking themselves. How will architecture and its function stand the test of time?

Marta Kowalska

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