Concrete Skies: Photographer explores forgotten spaces below highways and bridges

For the past 20 years, Austrian photographer Gisela Erlacher has dedicated much of her work to documenting urban and suburban space.

Via submission. All images by Gisela Erlacher, courtesy of Park Books

Via submission. All images by Gisela Erlacher, courtesy of Park Books

In her latest series, Skies of Concrete, she explores the spaces found hidden underneath highways and flyovers across Europe and China.

Each photograph reveals not only her own fascination with these massive concrete monstrosities but also her interest in how they're now being used by the people who choose to wedge themselves into these forgotten areas.

Speaking to Uncube magazine, she explained how the project began: "I took the first of these images several years ago in Vienna. It was of a former suburban train station that had been converted into a house, jammed between two bridges across the Danube. It was a situation that said a lot about the condition of our society. Then I encountered the topic again in China: in Chongqing, there are a number of spectacular highways due to the nature of the hilly landscape, and in Shanghai as well, where the increasing density of the city has resulted in multi-storey highways. You don’t need much imagination to understand the spatial pressure people there live under."

She added: "In Chinese cities, you find these kinds of situations in the centre, in European cities, they tend to be on the periphery. What is particularly noticeable is that in China it is much more everyday, normal activities and functions: workers’ housing, teahouses and restaurants under bridges are not unusual there.

"In Europe, in these more peripheral urban situations, most of the structures under bridges are things like facilities for young people such as sports grounds and skate parks, or otherwise parking and storage facilities. What connects all these spaces is the attempt to utilise them. Even though such spaces are far more visible, central and perhaps even more common in Asia, it is not purely an Asian theme."

If you love this work, then you'll be delighted to hear that Erlacher is releasing a new book – Skies of Concrete will launch in February, published by Park Books.


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