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Nature strikes back in "The Beauty of Decay" photographic series

Nature strikes back in "The Be...
A boarding school for political education. The school was built in 1981 and has been abandoned since 1990
A boarding school for political education. The school was built in 1981 and has been abandoned since 1990
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A boarding school for political education. The school was built in 1981 and has been abandoned since 1990
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A boarding school for political education. The school was built in 1981 and has been abandoned since 1990
An old hotel, empty for ten years now sees ferns popping up all over the place
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An old hotel, empty for ten years now sees ferns popping up all over the place
A natural bath found in an abandoned villa. At first glance, it is reminiscent of an old Roman bath. Much more about the property is not known
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A natural bath found in an abandoned villa. At first glance, it is reminiscent of an old Roman bath. Much more about the property is not known
A leaking roof has turned this abandoned hotel into a blooming biotope
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A leaking roof has turned this abandoned hotel into a blooming biotope
View into the lounge of an abandoned nursing home. This home has long been closed, but some furniture has been left behind. The fern as a houseplant gives life to the room
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View into the lounge of an abandoned nursing home. This home has long been closed, but some furniture has been left behind. The fern as a houseplant gives life to the room
An employee dressing room in a former hotel. The hotel has been only been empty for about 10 years
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An employee dressing room in a former hotel. The hotel has been only been empty for about 10 years
The plants outside slowly reclaim the interior of this old hospital
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The plants outside slowly reclaim the interior of this old hospital
This hotel was abandoned following a major fire. Due to a leaky roof, nature has rapidly reclaimed the space. Lovingly it was also referred to as Hotel Moosbett among photographers. The building has recently been demolished
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This hotel was abandoned following a major fire. Due to a leaky roof, nature has rapidly reclaimed the space. Lovingly it was also referred to as Hotel Moosbett among photographers. The building has recently been demolished
This foyer is located in an abandoned all-girls' gymnasium, back when this building was populated, men were not allowed in. But since the 90s, the building with this beautiful architecture increasingly decayed
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This foyer is located in an abandoned all-girls' gymnasium, back when this building was populated, men were not allowed in. But since the 90s, the building with this beautiful architecture increasingly decayed
This picture shows the pool of a 5 star hotel complex. Once upon a time, important heads of state and government sunbathed here. This luxury resort opened in 1971. But over time, wealthy guests increasingly gave in and led to the closure in the early 1990s
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This picture shows the pool of a 5 star hotel complex. Once upon a time, important heads of state and government sunbathed here. This luxury resort opened in 1971. But over time, wealthy guests increasingly gave in and led to the closure in the early 1990s
The paint is peeling off the walls and the skeleton of the architecture is gradually being uncovered as this former villa falls apart
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The paint is peeling off the walls and the skeleton of the architecture is gradually being uncovered as this former villa falls apart
This carpet factory was abandoned in 1991. Since then, the building has become more and more dilapidated. In the old workshop you will find this slowly collapsing shelf
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This carpet factory was abandoned in 1991. Since then, the building has become more and more dilapidated. In the old workshop you will find this slowly collapsing shelf
Moss and ferns have taken over this former dye factory
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Moss and ferns have taken over this former dye factory
Stunning green moss coverings highlight the green colors taking over this abandoned factory
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Stunning green moss coverings highlight the green colors taking over this abandoned factory
A closer look at the green mossy bar stools in an old boarding school
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A closer look at the green mossy bar stools in an old boarding school
In this villa, nature gradually fights back. Only the richly decorated walls and ceilings recall the former splendor
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In this villa, nature gradually fights back. Only the richly decorated walls and ceilings recall the former splendor
Only the red curtains stand apart from the encroaching green of nature in this decomposing hotel
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Only the red curtains stand apart from the encroaching green of nature in this decomposing hotel
Another look at this former dye factory, now only producing shades of green
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Another look at this former dye factory, now only producing shades of green

German photographer Michael Schwan's ongoing series The Beauty of Decay chronicles his travels across Europe capturing abandoned buildings in stunning states of disintegration. This exclusive gallery collects some of this artist's most spectacular shots of nature reclaiming these formerly majestic spaces.

Schwan, born in 1988, always held a passion for photography but initially trained in engineering with a focus on materials science. This interest in the fundamental properties of materials certainly manifested in a fascination with the aesthetics of decay.

Over the last few years, Schwan has travelled across Europe visiting lost and forgotten architectural sites closely studying the slow and progressive disintegration of abandoned places. From a decomposing castle in Poland, to a five-star hotel in Portugal left in a deteriorating state of disrepair, Schwan's eye manages to catch the profound beauty in materials as they waste away.

Only the red curtains stand apart from the encroaching green of nature in this decomposing hotel
Only the red curtains stand apart from the encroaching green of nature in this decomposing hotel

"Most people in the city rush around and they have no time to look back into the past," Schwan writes. "I want to remind them of that history. Whether filled with rich decorative elements or by spartan furniture, the elements left speak to the former glory of these abandoned spaces."

The plants outside slowly reclaim the interior of this old hospital
The plants outside slowly reclaim the interior of this old hospital

This particular gallery of images shared with New Atlas by Schwan explores more specifically the encroachment of nature back into the abandoned spaces. Years after humans have shunned these bars and ballrooms, nature always seems to find a way to reclaim its dominance. Feeling like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, these beautiful abandoned locations are a reminder that nature may be waiting for us to pass so it can assert its dominance over the environment once again.

Take a look through our beauty of decay gallery here.

Many of these images are available to buy in large limited edition prints from Michael Schwan's website.

Source: Michael Schwan

4 comments
Username
I don't find these beautiful, I find them profoundly sad.
guzmanchinky
These HDR shots are incredibly cool.
Nik
I also find abandoned buildings very sad. When I think of the millions of people struggling to put a roof over their heads, and those sleeping and dying on the streets. These few are just the tip of the iceberg. You-tube and pinterest have thousands of pictures of abandoned buildings, from castles down to small cottages. Some even have all the previous owners personal effects in them, as if they just walked out, and disappeared. Some of them are spectacular and glorious buildings, like old theatres, and cinema's, or even mansions, all just slowly disintegrating. Crazy!
ljaques
The ferns are beautiful, but not in that setting. That's not beauty, that's sad neglect and abuse. The whole thing is distressing.