Steve Thairu Mbaki

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Abandoned Spaces: The Beauty of Nature

Abandoned spaces are places that have been left empty and unused for a period of time. They can be found all over the world in all scales, from abandoned towns and villages to abandoned factories, hospitals, and schools. Abandoned spaces may seem eerie and forgotten, but they can also be strangely beautiful and evocative, transporting you to a different place with a rich history that might have been forgotten.

There are a variety of reasons why places become abandoned. Some are abandoned due to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, or volcanic eruptions. Economic hardship, technological obsolescence, or simply the passage of time abandons other places. Still others are abandoned due to war or conflict. Whatever the reason for their abandonment, these spaces always tell a story. They are a reminder of the past and the people who once lived and worked there. They can also be a symbol of change.

Varosha, Cyprus is a former resort town on the island of Cyprus described as the “French Riviera of Cyprus” was abandoned in 1974 during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The town had remained abandoned ever since, with its hotels and beaches empty and its streets lined with deserted buildings. In 2020, the museum reopened to the public, who marveled at the forgotten spaces and soaked in the history.

Kolmanskop, Namibia was a well of luxury. The town was abandoned after intensive mining depleted the area by the 1930s, sealing the town’s fate when the richest diamond fields ever known were found on the beach terraces to the south. The townspeople left in droves, abandoning homes and possessions. The desert sands are now slowly reclaiming the town’s buildings.

These reminders point to the fact that nothing lasts forever and are always up for evolution or obsolescence. These are just two well known examples of the many abandoned spaces that can be found around the world.

These spaces offer a glimpse into the past and can inspire feelings of wonder, awe, and even melancholy. In addition to their historical and cultural significance, abandoned spaces can also be a source of inspiration for artists, photographers, and filmmakers. These spaces provide a unique and atmospheric backdrop for creative expression. They offer such rich historical and cultural value. These sites may be preserved or restored for their value in telling the story of a place or time period.

Abandoned spaces are intriguing to urban explorers, ecologists and photographers. These individuals venture into these locations to document the decay of one thing vs the prevalence of another thing. Most abandoned places seem to encourage new life like Houtouwan village on China’s Shengshan Island which has been entirely engulfed by vegetation capturing the eerie beauty of abandonment and prevalence of nature. Abandoned areas in rural or natural settings can provide habitat for wildlife. These spaces can contribute to biodiversity and ecosystem health if allowed to revert to their natural state. This can help to improve air and water quality, reduce heat island effects, and provide habitat for wildlife.

Abandoned industrial sites may pose environmental hazards due to contamination from past industrial processes. Cleanup efforts, if needed, can be made and have been made in some cases, Hangar Y in Paris. People often repurpose or redevelop abandoned spaces for new uses. For instance, they transform old factories into residential lofts, theaters, or art galleries. Additionally, abandoned spaces sometimes serve as venues for artistic installations, performances, or as settings for movies and music videos.

Organisations and individuals around the world are preserving and rehabilitating abandoned spaces with historical or architectural value. They raise funds, restore buildings, and collaborate with local governments. Others transform abandoned spaces into community gathering places or recreational areas. These spaces offer locals a place to gather, relax, and engage in social activities while learning about their history and culture. This can revitalise neighbourhoods and improve residents’ quality of life.

While abandoned spaces can offer these benefits, it’s essential to recognize that realising these advantages often requires careful planning, investment, and community involvement. Addressing safety concerns, legal considerations, and property rights is crucial. Responsible and sustainable approaches are necessary to maximise the positive impact of abandoned spaces on communities and the environment.

If you are interested in exploring abandoned spaces, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, always be respectful of the property and its owners. When exploring abandoned spaces, be aware of the potential dangers, such as structural instability, hazardous materials, and wild animals. Finally, be sure to leave no trace of your visit.