The gallery Beelitz-Heilstätten was until recently an ongoing body of work, which has stopped as access to the location is no longer possible legally.
Beelitz is one of those places that oozes history from the very fabric of the buildings as you explore the buildings. Buildings date from 1898 when the site was first developed as a tuberculosis sanatorium with separate clinics for men and women expanding from 600 beds to 1200 beds.
The campus was one of the first implementations of combined-heat-and-power where electricity was generated locally and the excess heat used for heating the buildings, providing a very efficient use of energy. Fresh food was deemed important for the recovering sick, and produce and meat were sourced from the surrounding grounds and the site included its own meat processing plant and bakery.
During WW1 the site was repurposed as a military hospital accommodating 17,500 people between 1914 and 1918.
WW2 saw extensive damage to the area, however the Red Army took over the site in 1945 after the Battle of Berlin, and turned it into the largest Russian military hospital operating outside of Russia, which operated until the early 1990s. Eric Honnecker was a patient here in December 1990 receiving treatment for liver cancer before he and his wife were relocated to Moscow in 1991.
The owner of the site suffered insolvency in 2001 and the site fell into decay. More recently some parts of the buildings were use for art studios, and in 2008 the banks started finding buyers for the site. Meanwhile it has found use as filming location for film and TV.
The site has something of a bad reputation for deaths - a serial killer murdered a mother and her baby here in 1991, a photographer killed his model while using the clinic buildings as a backdrop in 2008. Two years later in 2010 a man fell down a deep shaft approx four storeys high. In 2011 a homeless man living here was found hanged.
I have visited the site a number of times and I could well believe the buildings are haunted. When I explored the buildings known amongst explorers as the "Witney Houston house" the security staff told me I was the only person on site that day, however the noises I heard led me to believe otherwise. Searching for the source of the noise was unsuccessful and whoever - or whatever it was eluded me.
Most of the shots are taken with ultra wide angle zooms on a full frame camera. Particularly the Canon 8-15mm and Canon 11-24mm. I particularly like internal architectural shots where the perspective is 'square' and the wide angle curvature effect is removed by post processing to give a sense of space and emptiness.
I also particularly look for different colour temperature of light to lead the view from cold to warm tones down a long corridor, for example.
Now the last of the buildings have been sold for renovation and access is no longer possible. With redevelopment these buildings will become homes, offices and modern medical facilities in a beautiful setting. I just hope it is done sympathetically to maintain some of the history the exudes from the walls of this place.
To view the full set of images, please view the Beelitz-Heilstätten gallery
Andrew Kirby September 2018