Daily Dose: Wabi Sabi in Concrete Cities

Add to TwitterThere’s something irresistibly intriguing about abandoned buildings. Melancholic, beautiful and historically rich, they never lose their appeal for those of us who find consistent wonder in the traces of human life. They also are encompassed perfectly in the concept of wabi sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that recognizes the often overlooked, transient details of everyday objects. The decay of an abandoned building facilitates its return to an organic state of being, connecting it more intimately with its natural environment. Wabi sabi applies to the passing stages of life and death as well, honoring rather than fearing the decline of an organism or object’s life or utility. Westerners have difficulty appreciating this aesthetic and worldview, mainly because we are enveloped in a culture that is fanatic about the new, the boisterous and the artificial. I hope, however, that you’ll indulge your romantic leanings when you see these photos and see not buildings in desperate need of repair but rather structures steeped in culture and potential.

Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong

Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong

Pod City of San Zhi, Taiwan

Pod City of San Zhi, Taiwan

Ellis Island Hospital and "forgotten dune"

Ellis Island Hospital and "forgotten dune"

Bokor Hill Station in Phnom Bokor, Cambodia

Bokor Hill Station in Phnom Bokor, Cambodia

Some of these images, like that of the Kowloon Walled City, are widely recognized for the fame of the pictured buildings’ desertion. Others, such as the “forgotten dune” don’t even direct the viewer to a specific location; these are the truly forgotten and abandoned structures that nevertheless merit attention and respect. Thanks for looking and considering.

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One Response

  1. Nice photos, very.. charismatic, I’d say. It’s an interesting sensation to look at them and imagine being inside of these buildings

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