Killing Doel

Doel is a town that's been sentenced to death.  Yep, they're actually killing the town.  Well, technically, "demolishing" would be a better word, but when you walk the streets it feels much more death related than a clinical demolishing of something no longer needed/wanted.

They're wiping 700 year old Doel off the map because some one decided there is a need to expand the Antwerp harbor.   So, the inhabitants of the town were basically told to leave.

It was supposed to be fully vacated by Sept 2009, but a small handful of people of the original 3000 are still living there.  The rest is made up of squatters, hippies, and/or druggies... and cats.  Lots and lots of cats many of them are actually dead cats.  I saw 4 the day I was here.

So, now, you can go to the town and find it in the process of being demolished.  The day I was there, there was actually a large digger tearing down one of the houses.

It's undescribable the isolation and emptiness one feels walking the streets that are completely devoid of life.  In the 4 hours I was there, I must have seen 10 people, and 4 of them were the crew manning the building eater.  Oh, and I'm pretty sure a googleMaps car (or a competitor) drove past us photographing (or GPSing) the town.. That's weird as it'll be totally useless info soon.

The houses that can actually be entered were a combination of creepy, intriguing and sad.  Mostly sad.   The living room below was particularly sad/interesting because it had this lived in feel, but in reality, I know that "lived in" feel really comes from looters going through their crap after the family abandoned the home.

When I was there, the bus still mades stops in the town. I wonder when that will come to an end, if it hasn't already.

Below you can see the steam rising from the nearby nuclear reactor.. maybe moving from here isn't such a bad idea.

In the below two images you can see little hearts painted on the door/entrances to many houses.  I'm not quite sure what this meant though I assumed it meant that there was no longer anyone living there, but I cannot confirm that.  The couch on the right one really creeped me out for some reason.. that whole house felt violated, I couldn't stay in it long.

Somebody asked me how I processed these images and if I did some HDR treatment on them.  No, no HDR, not a fan of it.  But what I did do is in the same... family... as HDR.  All of these are processed in Lightroom only, and for most of them I did a combination of boosting both the "Fill light" and "Blacks" settings to give it that really contrasty, sometimes 3d looking feel to it.  Of course, there may be other small corrections, but that was the majority of post work done.

Many of the houses had large murals painted on them as there were efforts by artists to save the town by claiming the houses were works of art so they couldn't be destroyed.  Nice try hippies.. didn't work. ;)

Something about the similar, yet 'off' patterns matching on the wall and mirror really drew me in.. too bad the shot is ruined with that ugly dude in it.

Standing on one the dykes along the water looking into the town. It was an interesting reminder of how far below the water level so much of this part of Europe is.  The whole town felt this deserted!

Someone left me a gift when I opened the below fridge.  Probably another photographer has this exact same shot, and closed the door when he/she left this house.

This scene gave me flashbacks of the time I spent in Bosnia during and just after the war in the mid 90s.  You'd find houses looking just like this on the inside, but for entirely different and more nefarious reasons (wow, I got to use the word 'nefarious' in a serious context!).

All-in-all, Doel was a great, if saddening, experience.  I'd recommend it to anyone who likes taking photos, particularly those who like abandoned places. But hurry before the town is truly dead and gone.