Nature is unrelenting. Wind, sun and sand never stop their detrimental efforts to erode, erase and retake space humans have altered. Sometimes we only see the after effects centuries later and can’t fully comprehend the process of nature’s will. But sometimes, we can have an audience with the power of Mother Nature and see exactly how she works her magic. Kolmanskop is such a place.
Not far from the Namibian coastal town of Luderitz, Kolmanskop is an old mining town, once home to wealthy diamond miners and the families of the mine workers. It was built during the German colonial era and therefore has the architectural and cultural influences of Germany, including a ballroom, theatre, skittle alley and casino.
Today the clapboard houses and buildings are being inexorably overwhelmed by the sands of the desert surrounding it. Everything from the grand mansions to the tiny row houses of the workers have sand, wind and sun damage. Walls have holes, floors have caved in and sand dunes reach up to ceilings.
It is a surreal experience to walk into a room through a perfectly normal doorway, albeit a little worse for wear, and see a slopping pile of sand filling up one whole corner of the space. There are even reminders of the life left behind, with bathtubs, bed frames and other pieces of everyday life left scattered through the ruined houses.
For us it was a dream to wander through these unique spaces and take photos of changing light, shifting sands and fading colours on pock marked walls. Neither of us have a lot of experience with locations of decaying manmade structures like this, and it was truly magical to spend a whole morning investigating this mesmerising location.