if post-apocalyptic films and the growing popularity of urban exploration are anything to go by, there’s one question that fascinates modern human beings above all others: what would earth look like if we suddenly disappeared? in his new book, titled ‘green urbex’, french photographer romain veillon illustrates what that reality might look like with over 200 photos of abandoned places across the globe.
the pictures show how buildings and other manmade infrastructure degrade and rot, before eventually returning to nature. to reflect this gradual process, the book is divided into three parts. the first section shows the initial abandonment, the places are empty but remain more or less intact. in the second part, humanity is long gone and the buildings become more dilapidated. finally, veillon shows nature taking over in a world full of ruins and vegetation. text accompanies each part of the book to describe what would become of the world ‘without us’ using the most recent studies.
images by romain veillon
‘you will find all sorts of abandoned places: houses, castles, palaces, churches, factories, attraction parks, hospitals, railways, greenhouses, schools,’ says veillon about his new book.‘you will find the stories of thirteen particular places where there is a special focus with the history and all the interesting facts on it. for example, the attraction park ‘nara dreamland’ in japan, which was created to look like disneyworld (the same princess’ castle, fountain, or village) because the owner fell in love with the original park during a trip to the US but didn’t have the authorization to build and run the japanese disneyland.’
the book contains more than 200 photos of abandoned places
the photographer continues,‘I really fell in love with the abandoned casino of constanta in romania. it possesses an incredible art-nouveau style. the architecture there is just gorgeous: the main hall has a beautiful shell shape window; and inside, you can still find huge chandeliers, paintings, and ornaments from back in the time where all the rich families used to gather. it was one of the places to be in europe before the two world wars. unfortunately, despite its glorious past, it was finally abandoned in the nineties after having served as a restaurant, a hospital, or a cultural house. now, i’m glad the casino is finally in restoration and that it will know a new life soon!’
the third chapter of the book shows nature taking over
‘I think the explosion of the success of social media really changed the way we feel about abandoned places. I have witnessed the number of followers increasing greatly after the boom of facebook or instagram when before it was only a small community of photographs that knew about my work for example. I feel that people have the impression of entering a forbidden museum where they can have access to places they couldn’t go. the feeling of traveling instantly in time and countries thanks to photographs,’ says veillon about the magic of abandoned places.
‘everybody loves to get lost in there and imagine what could have been the life of the inhabitants and what might have happened when it was full of life.’
on the growing popularity of abandoned places, the photographer notes, ‘over the past two/three years, depending on the country, you can see that the number of people interested in abandoned places has completely exploded. thanks to social media mainly I think. instagram, youtube, twitter, or even tik-tok are now the only medium for young people to visit derelict locations, photography is not something useful anymore. they see it as a type of video which is supposed to be transgressive, so they are more attracted to it. we will see later if it is something that will last or if this phenomenon will disappear.’
‘the increase of people exploring abandoned places also comes vandalism: a castle that stayed untouched for twenty years will be trashed or burned in a month, while many objects will disappear. I guess, there is nothing to do except keeping the locations secret so that people don’t destroy so many of those places.’
green urbex was released by publisher albin michel on october 6, 2021, in hardcover. the book is currently only available in french, but we look forward to seeing an english version soon.
a text description accompanies each part of the book
the final text describes what would become of the world ‘without us’ based on the most recent studies
book title: green urbex
photography: romain veillon | @romain_veillon
publisher: albin michel
features: full color, hardcover, 248 pages
format: 30 x 2.9 x 24.4 cm
publication date: october 6, 2021
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