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Sylvain Margaine: Photographer Of Eerie Abandoned Buildings
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Sylvain Margaine: Photographer Of Eerie Abandoned Buildings

Picture of Emily Brown
Updated: 10 January 2017
Sylvain Margaine works as an engineer by day and urban explorer by night. He spends his evenings looking for abandoned buildings, dodging security guards for exclusive photographs. Margaine seeks out spaces that were once grand but have since fallen into disrepair. The result is a series of arresting photographs that profile the beauty of decay.
The Bulgarian Communist Party HQ, Buzludzha, Bulgaria © Sylvain Margaine
The Bulgarian Communist Party HQ, Buzludzha, Bulgaria | © Sylvain Margaine

Sylvain Margaine is French-born and Brussels-based. He grew up in the French Pyrenees, a region with a disappearing heritage. Growing up, his father would take him on tours of abandoned textile factories, which prompted his fascination with decaying architecture. He would explore abandoned churches, castles, and hospitals, undeterred by the signs telling trespassers to keep out. Instead, they further enticed him to enter forbidden places. By 1998, Margaine was displaying photographs of the places he explored on his website, and has since published three books in French and English.

Paper Factory in the German Black Forest © Sylvain Margaine
Paper Factory in the German Black Forest | © Sylvain Margaine

According to Margaine, there are two types of urban exploration: transcending the well-worth paths set out for us by city planners and architects, and exploring places that have fallen into decay. While Margaine is not a professional photographer, he travels for his job as an engineer, and pursues his hobby around the world.

He locations shrouded in myth and tragedy, and is no stranger to paranormal investigative teams. Margaine has been quoted saying, “in one photo from an asylum, they think they see a blurry image of a man working at the far end of a corridor. But it’s not a ghost; it’s the shadow of one of my friends. I have been doing this a long time and haven’t so far seen anything I couldn’t explain.”

Dilapidated St George's church in Lukova © Sylvain Margaine
Dilapidated St George’s church in Lukova | © Sylvain Margaine
Inside the villa of a former urologist, Germany © Sylvain Margaine
Inside the villa of a former urologist, Germany | © Sylvain Margaine
Antwerp Pre-Metro © Sylvain Margaine
Antwerp Pre-Metro | © Sylvain Margaine
A former roundhouse for the trains in Poland © Sylvain Margaine
A former roundhouse for the trains in Poland | © Sylvain Margaine
Underground river under the city of Brescia, Italy © Sylvain Margaine
Underground river under the city of Brescia, Italy | © Sylvain Margaine
Inside a manicomio (Italian mental asylum) © Sylvain Margaine
Inside a manicomio (Italian mental asylum) | © Sylvain Margaine
An old castle belonging to a rich architect © Sylvain Margaine
An old castle belonging to a rich architect | © Sylvain Margaine
In the basement of a villa belonging to a wine maker © Sylvain Margaine
In the basement of a villa belonging to a wine maker | © Sylvain Margaine