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Markel Redondo
Nobody’s home.
GHOST TOWN

Drone photos reveal the abandoned homes left by Spain’s housing crash

By Johnny Simon

After the Spain housing market cratered in 2007, millions of home built during the speculative era were abandoned. By 2011, Spanish census figures put the number of empty houses at 3.4 million, roughly 30% of all of Europe’s empty property. A half million developments were only partially completed.

Photographer Markel Redondo has documented the remnants of that era for nearly a decade, resulting in his project Sand Castles. This year, he revisited some of the original developments he photographed, for a second installment called Sand Castles (part II). The project was completed with equipment and funding from the British Journal of Photography’s DJI Drone Photography Awards.

Using a drone allowed Redondo to mimic some of the ideal, sweeping angles that these properties might have been photographed from, had they been finished and put on the market. “I wanted to present the developments like postcards,” he told the British Journal of Photography, “in the way that the developers and constructors would have imagined them, with nice light, but obviously with the feeling that something is wrong.”

The new perspective also puts the developments in a stark contrast to their surrounding areas. “I knew the developments were big, but I could not imagine their true extent,” he said. “The sites are completely deserted and the locations are difficult to reach so, unless you are determined to go there, most people don’t ever see them.”

Markel Redondo
Ciudad Jardin Soto Real housing development in Buniel, Burgos, Spain.
Markel Redondo
An unfinished roof of a home in an abandoned development.
Markel Redondo
An aerial view of a partially built housing development.
Markel Redondo
A cul-de-sac in an abandoned development.
Markel Redondo
Markel Redondo
An aerial view of a partially built housing development.