Ruins and abandoned places have attracted French photographer and graphic artist Dimitri Bourriau, since childhood. Dimitri, working under the moniker Jahz Design, accidentally discovered a very old abandoned orphanage with a friend, six years ago. It was the beginning of his pursuit to capture places in the limbo between abandonment and destruction or the salvation of renovation. The size and the atmosphere of the building captivated him. In his own words:
“Virtually nothing had moved in years, everything was covered with dust. I wanted to transcribe this atmosphere in a picture. I started looking for abandoned places all over France and then all over Europe.”
Since then, Dimitri Bourriau has visited over 200 places within the European continent, ranging from a Portuguese prison to a Soviet-era congress hall in Bulgarian mountains. Russia and the former countries of the USSR provided Dimitri with a wealth of captivating locations for him to explore, satisfying his preference for old cinemas and palaces, since these places are almost always impressive and still show a glimpse of their past grandeur. He warns though that, the rarer the building, the more complicated the access to it becomes.
The places are very often monitored by guards, alarms or dogs. Bourriau is not intimidated by all these protective measures and he considers it to be a part of the game. The visitor must be extremely discreet. The issue of safety is very important, given that with time, a derelict building becomes more and more dangerous. Dimitri stresses that nobody is safe in case a floor or ceiling collapses as the party explores the place and that visitors must respect the places they enter.
Respect for a place is very important, you must never break anything. Do not degrade the place if you want the place to stay in this state for a long time. Leave no trace of your passage.
The Buzludzha Monument, one of my most beautiful explorations. This former communist congress hall has been abandoned since the fall of the Soviet Union. It is located at more than 1400m altitude on the chain of the Balkans. The climbing was long and it was extremely cold (-35 °). After 2 hours of walking, I am finally here, facing this UFO. I am in the middle of nowhere, the atmosphere is magical and strange.
This staircase made me dream for months. After having climbed through a window that was open, I finally found myself inside this former mental asylum. The architecture is typically Italian. Without doubt one of the most beautiful staircases I had the opportunity to photograph.
A great classic to explore; the Grand Hotel Paragon. An old luxury hotel which is totally abandoned today. I took advantage of a road trip to Italy to explore it. The hotel is extremely impressive but unfortunately in a very bad condition. The access was not too difficult to find, it took me a few minutes to be inside. The lobby is majestic, it alone deserves the trip.
The Dictator’s villa. As its name suggests, this strange building belonged to a former dictator. I arrived at night in front of the place. I had to be extremely discreet, there was a lot of traffic in the vicinity. The access was not simple, the interior is very dark. I arrive after a few minutes in the main hall, this room is the largest and the highest of this villa. I wait for the sun to rise to begin my exploration of this place. The architecture of this piece is remarkable.
How not to feel like a child in front of an abandoned aiplane? This former airliner has been grounded for years and will never take off again. Aircraft explorations are always different from other explorations. I particularly like this style of photography.
A very surprising place. Who would imagine that this theatre is found in a psychiatric hospital? It was not easy to access, there were many guards on site. Part of it still looked active despite most buildings being covered by vegetation. The theater was extremely dangerous, a good part of it has collapsed. The light was very strange. I nicknamed this theater Jumanji Theater because of the many and huge mosquitoes that were flying everywhere.
This place is unusual, it is a very large crypt prohibited to the public. The air is heavy, the walls are wet. The configuration of the place is special. All this makes the place very strange and interesting at the same time. The thing that impressed me the most was the silence. There was not a single sound in this crypt.