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CityEuropeReginald Van de Velde ; The Fascinating Architecture of Cooling Towers

Industrial zones located on the outskirts of big cities regularly feature cooling towers: tall, open-topped, cylindrical concrete towers used for cooling water or condensing steam from industrial processes.

Industrial zones located on the outskirts of big cities regularly feature cooling towers: tall, open-topped, cylindrical concrete towers used for cooling water or condensing steam from industrial processes.

These bold man-made structures are extremely monotonous in architecture. We are aware of their presence, yet we classify them as dull and not interesting. Ignoring them, erasing them from our view. The fact that these structures are situated in off-limit areas contributes to that perception.

But what if we got to see the interior of such towers? Would we still find them uninteresting?

Belgian photographer Reginald Van de Velde explored the inner workings and mechanisms of cooling towers across Europe. Capturing active ones, decommissioned ones, cooling towers on maintenance and cooling towers slated for demolition.

“It’s incredible to see how many plants are closing down these days”, Reginald says. Who’s to blame? The European Union, who endorses very strict rules to achieve climate change objectives, resulting in the closure of many coal-fired power plants throughout Europe.

Cooling Towers | The Fascinating Architecture
Reginald Van de Velde | The Fascinating Architecture of Cooling Towers

Photography wise, the closure of these plants is pure bliss for Reginald. For the first time we can enter & explore them, document and admire them. The interior of cooling towers yield astonishing vistas, so grand and impressive. Reginald approaches these objects as landscapes. Searching for patterns, sense of scale, repetition, and disruption, rendering landscapes within.

“One thing that fascinates me extremely is the fact that not a single cooling tower is the same”, Reginald says. “Each and every one of them has a unique interior design and build! They all look the same from the exterior, but with each visit to a new cooling tower I’m always surprised by a different interior, time and time again.

Cooling Towers | The Fascinating Architecture
Reginald Van de Velde | The Fascinating Architecture of Cooling Towers

About Reginald Van de Velde

J.M.Barrie once wrote: “All children, except one, grow up.“ I eventually grew up but what seeped into my adulthood as well as my photographs was the undeniable Peter Panish thirst for adventure and a wish to stop time. Or at least make if flow a little slower.

I consider myself a hunter for moments perfectly still in time, audibly quieter than the deafening humanity around us ever so busy with its realities, fumes and worries. And in those moments my work begins. Instead of a wooden sword and a red-feather hat, I play with symmetry and cameras, ever searching for the freshness of a new sight.

It is quite ironic, in a sense, to seek out freshness precisely in those places where there is none left. Yet in a world in which all the information is readily available at the tips of our fingers, that freshness remains a precious commodity, as well as time. I wish to offer my viewers both of these things. To distort their perception of time as much as it is distorted in the places they are looking at. To offer them a tiny fraction of solitude in a world moving too fast. To let them catch their breaths. To put a wooden sword in their hands and a red-feathered hat on their heads. [Official Website]

Cooling Towers | The Fascinating Architecture
Reginald Van de Velde | The Fascinating Architecture of Cooling Towers

05_coolingTowers 06_coolingTowers 07_coolingTowers 08_coolingTowers 09_coolingTowers 10_coolingTowers 11_coolingTowers 12_coolingTowers 13_coolingTowers

Cooling Towers | The Fascinating Architecture
Reginald Van de Velde | The Fascinating Architecture of Cooling Towers

Cooling Towers | The Fascinating Architecture
Reginald Van de Velde | The Fascinating Architecture of Cooling Towers

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Photo by ©Ryotaro Horiuchi | Japan | Issue#14
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