Abandoned schools and universities.
How many years of tests, of notes passed, of chalkboards scribbled on gave these places of study their meaning? The final bell has long since rung, and desks sit empty, their carved-initial surfaces slowly chipping and peeling. While their country of origin and the size of the communities they serve may vary, time reclaims each of these spaces with the same methodical patience, like a teacher waiting for her class to settle down and pay attention. Tiny grade schools and grand lecture halls have, in many cases, been abandoned in the face of sobering repair costs – the gradual demolition of time and neglect being far less expensive to grapple with.
The hallways no longer echo with a tumble of footfalls rushing to the next class, but sometimes, a heavy layer of dust is all that serves to remind the observer that no students will be returning here. A glance into a classroom may reveal science labs with faded test tubes at the ready, or mostly-tidy rows of desks populated by nothing but mice and sparrows for decades. Other classrooms are more well-behaved in the face of decay’s insistence – little more than a blackboard remains to mark their former statuses.
In this series, my favorite photographs were taken at an abandoned university I found in Luik, Belgium. Even though the facility had already been abandoned for a decade, the classrooms were still filled with materials and books, desks and all the trappings of teaching and learning. The old architecture underscored the decay, emphasizing the care and durability that once defined these now-abandoned educational spaces. If you want to read more about this unique place, check out my blog
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