I am finding inspiration is in an odd and rather depressing place. 100 Abandoned Houses is a beautiful but haunting photography project by Kevin Bauman. His website is a collection of images he has captured over the last 10 year of his own home town of Detroit.
The photography is beautiful and the collection of photos is certainly a compelling collection that, as a design interested person, I can’t help be be drawn in by. The neighborhoods look remarkably similar to Washington Park, Alamo Placita Park and Cherry Creek in Denver where I used to live. I loved these neighborhoods for their mix of cottages, large homes and interesting architecture and people that created a unique flavor that you just don’t find in newer cookie cutter neighborhoods. Seeing something familiar in such a state of decline brings the reality of our declining economy and the impact that it has on individual families a bit closer to home.
I am noticing in these pictures the remarkable lack of love and sense of personal space. Obviously the house are falling down, but I am talking about the landscape too. There are no fences left, the plants that would make a garden are either dead from neglect or have taken over the house entirely. I am somewhat shocked by the lack of vibrancy that these home have. Green and all the shades of the garden lacking makes for a rather stark image.
I think it would be interesting to walk these neighborhoods and study what is alive and thriving, are they native plants or something else? What did people plant in better times that still exists and what can we learn from that to make better spaces now.
You know what else is striking to me – open, naturalized landscapes being a bit of a design trend – are just not that welcoming and enticing. I am noticing the remarkable similarities to what many designers are creating on purpose. It reminds me that this is not what people yearn for in a personal gardens and landscapes and that people (or at least I) find comfort in spaces that are at least a little bit organized, have a sense of structure, and create pocket of retreat. Do you agree?
What strikes you about these pictures?