Belgium is a beautiful country full of picturesque little villages and quaint medieval towns. It is also home to the European Union. But there is an underbelly of urban decay that eludes the cultural fanfare and escapes a mention in the Lonely Planet. This article explores some of Belgium’s urban and industrial abandonments.
The abandoned houses above can – or should I say, could – be found on the Lamot block in Adegem Street, Mechelen. Despite their notable architecture, they were clearly deemed uneconomical to repair – or perhaps a blight on the pleasant cityscape – and demolished shortly after.
Ghent is one of Belgium’s finest cities, and these former workers’ houses in Brunel Street and Sikkel Street clearly didn’t help promote that image. Corrigated metal sheeting covers the ground floor doors and windows, presumably to repel the squatters that have nevertheless found a way in anyway. The park that is set to replace these buildings once demolition comes along will more than transform these fallen communities. Are those tram lines beneath the cobbled streets?
The surprisingly ornate factory above is an abandoned textile plant called Alsberghe-Van Oost in Ghent. The complex has been vacant for more than 25 years, although part of the structure is listed – probably the bit with the Neo Classical columns! The closure of Alsberghe-Van Oost could even be responsible for the abandoned streets above. After all, shutting down industrial buildings often decimates the blue-collar communities around them.
Photographer LHOON ironically titles the images above Brussels, the capital of Europe. Is this what you would expect from a city that is home to the European Commission and the European Council of Ministers? Brussels is one of the world’s foremost decision making centres, but just like Washington, DC and its surrounding area, even the great cities have their shadowy sides.
This abandoned industrial complex is an old petroleum depot south of Antwerp. The site is heavily overgrown and a think layer of rust seems to cover most of the metal surfaces. The railway line even comes complete with old petroleum trucks, and a brick furnace with chimney stands amongst the trees – reasonably well intact, albeit with a conservative dash of graffiti.