Brushed Off: 12 Dried Out & Abandoned Car Washes

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[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

abandoned car washes
Hold the hot wax and spare the soap, these abandoned car washes have blow-dried their last vehicle and will no longer thank you for coming again.

Scentless In San Mateo

abandoned Hillsdale car wash San Mateo(images via: phillipalden/abandonedplaces/LiVEJOURNAL)

Hillsdale may not be what it used to be but this little slice of suburbia in San Mateo, California still boasts the 120-store Hillsdale Shopping Center and the convenient Hillsdale Caltrain Station. Perhaps the popularity of the latter has caused a drop in private auto ownership, thereby reducing business at the former Hillsdale Car Wash to an unsustainable level.

abandoned Hillsdale car wash San Mateo(image via: phillipalden/abandonedplaces/LiVEJOURNAL)

As photo-documented by Phillip T. Alden, the Hillsdale Car Wash appears to have been relatively recently abandoned and most of its machinery and signage is intact, if a little worse for wear. OK, maybe more than a little. One imagines the car-owners of Hillsdale will now have to search far and wide for a car wash that offers custom interior fragrances such as Summer Breeze, New Car, Baby Powder, and Jasmine.

Dry Down Under

abandoned car wash Adelaide Australia(images via: Ryan Smith)

That’s not a car wash, THIS is a car wash and if any place NEEDS a car wash it’s Australia, what with all that red dust flying about. Flickr user Ryan Smith (RS 1990) captured this long-abandoned 1988 Kleindienst Euro-Combi car wash in Salisbury, a northern suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. As might be expected in one of the more arid areas of OZ, the car wash is more dusty than rusty. Sorry Mad Max, you’ll have to take your filthy Falcon XB Pursuit Special somewhere else.

Abandon All Soap

abandoned Detroit car wash church(image via: Detroit Liger)

Praise the Lord and pass the hot wax! Credit Flickr user Detroit Liger (Robert Monaghan) with this hauntingly beautiful image of a former Detroit car wash reborn (no pun intended) as a community church, then abandoned once more.

abandoned Detroit car wash church(images via: Detroit Liger and Houses Of God)

Located on on Mack Avenue two blocks east of Detroit’s historic Indian Village neighborhood, the “Gospel Hands Car Wash” has been shuttered so long it’s not certain whether it functioned first as a car wash and then as a church, or operated as a curious combination of both. Pimp my ride? No thanks, but how ’bout baptizing my Buick?

Cubs Club

abandoned car wash parking Chicago (image via: I Hate Clark Street!)

It isn’t easy being a Cubs fan, and living within shouting distance of Wrigley Field ain’t no bowl of cherries neither. A few privileged car-owners have found a sheltered oasis just off Clark Street, however, as this long-abandoned Chicago car wash now provides a precious few parking spaces conveniently close to The Friendly Confines.

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Rad Rides: Nuclear Power Plant Turned into Amusement Park

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

nuclear plant central swing

The iconic central cooling tower has been turned into a swing ride and climbing wall, but the re-purposed complex as a whole features over a dozen attractions including rides, restaurants, bars and hotels.

nuclear plant spinning carousel

nuclear plant rollercoaster ride

Wunderland Kalkar is set near Düsseldorf, Germany, the site of a nuclear power plant that never went live due to local protests and construction problems. The recognizably menacing centerpiece of its industrial landscape is no less noticeable for having been painted with a mountain-and-sky mural.

nuclear plant aerial view

Now that Germany is officially phasing out its use of nuclear energy, this solution (drawing in over a half-million annual visitors) may inspire other projects along similar lines.

nuclear plant park conversion

nuclear plant play space

In this case, billions in funding were ultimately scrapped and a developer was able to pick up the pieces for mere millions before turning a hefty profit through an unlikely conversion.

nuclear plant swing ride

Since the location’s transformation in 1995, visitors from around the country and the world have come to ride its wonderful merry-go-rounds and carousels. Some are drawn by its overt offerings, but many also feel the pull of experiencing a unique look into an what remains of an amazing abandoned nuclear compound.


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Mountain-Shaped Residences with Walkable Green Rooftops

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

green space residential complex

Beyond any inherent beauty or formal references to surrounding mountains, there is a more profound proposition in this series of structures about the way we walk into, through and above spaces.

green space ridge tops

green space aerial view

green space flowering plants

green space outdoor paths

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) was commissioned by a Taipei developer to create a mixed-use complex of housing, restaurants, cafes and more, all woven together with pedestrian walkways, jogging paths, gardens and plazas.

green residential complex diagram

green space sloped sides

Their solution introduces a degree of vertical accessibility we are not used to seeing beyond the first few floors of a building, tying together indoor and outdoor circulation, connecting public and commercial spaces beyond ordinary horizontal surfaces.

green space lobby area

green space entry seating

green space interior home

The Haulien Residences are intended to be a resort destination and their shape was inspired in part by mountains and the ocean, but many of its signature green ribbons are sloped to accommodate paths and stairs.

green complex elevation image

green hill structures

In turn, the green roofs provided by this approach offer shelter and shade in a tropical region for the dwellings themselves while preserving views and providing gardens, decks and porches at various heights throughout.


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No Más: 15 Closed, Abandoned & Vacant Taco Bells

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[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

abandoned Taco Bells
Don’t make a run for the border, most of Taco Bell’s 6,500 fast food restaurants are in the USA… not counting those that have been abandoned.

Olé Toledo!

abandoned taco bell Toledo(images via: Brad Raye)

The future as depicted in the film Demolition Man posits that “all restaurants are Taco Bell”, but they sure didn’t look as decrepit and, well, post-apocalyptic as the one above. Located at 708 N Reynolds Rd in Toledo, Ohio, the bleached remains of this outlet markedly contrast with the site’s thriving vegetation and clear blue sky.

abandoned taco bell Toledo(images via: Brad Raye)

Kudos to Flickr user Brad Raye for these images of the former Taco Bell taken on September 17th of 2013. The utter desolation of the scene and the distinct lack of maintenance add an eerie aura to what is outwardly a peaceful, silent tableau of a future that never was.

Express Yourself

abandoned Taco Express Two Rivers WI(image via: Andrew T)

This former Taco Express location in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, may have shut its drive-thru window for good but that didn’t stop one disgruntled customer from getting the last word… or last pictograph, as the case may be. Full props to Flickr user Andrew T for capturing the frustration of a consumer unable to consume.

There’s A Sale At Penney’s!

abandoned taco bell Torrington CT(images via: MJBarnes)

Welcome to retail plaza hell, otherwise known as Torrington, Connecticut, where both a Taco Bell outlet and the JCPenney anchor store both appear to have bitten the biscuit. What can you make of this, Johnny? Flickr user MJBarnes photo-documented the current state of the for-sale unit on an otherwise beautiful spring day in 2012.

Copper Bell

Baltimore police taco bell (image via: BETSY R)

Anyone considering a dine & dash in East Baltimore has best avoid this particular Taco Bell. You’d think the police would really prefer to work out of a donut shop, and maybe they would, so you’d best pay for your order without using any two-dollar bills. A tip of the hat to Flickr user BETSY R for snapping the “only in East Baltimore” image above.

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Interact with Escher-Like Architecture in This iPad Game

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[ By Steph in Gaming & Computing & Technology. ]

Monument Valley 1

Fantasy architectural structures inspired by M.C. Escher provide a playful setting for a fun iOS puzzle game called Monument Valley. Even if you aren’t big on playing games on your phone or iPad, it’s worth checking out just for the dazzling structures alone. Each architectural landscape is like a painting you can interact with.

Monument Valley 3

The object of the game is to solve sculptural puzzles to rescue Princess Ida, a little girl who needs to reach the top of the monuments. “There was once a princess who fell in love with geometry,” reads the press kit that comes with the game. The makers of the game include programmers with an interest in art, and artists with knowledge of programming, bringing these two worlds together to create a game that’s truly a visual wonder. Everything in the game works mechanically, but also looks incredible.

Monument Valley 4

Monument Valley 6

“The idea of the project was that every screen could be a work of art in itself,” says designer Paul Wong. “And so we work really hard – I think it’s a different way of approaching making a game. Every screenshot could be printed out and hung on a wall.”

Monument Valley 5

Monument Valley 2

The more of the puzzles you solve, the more of Ida’s story and that of the abandoned Monument Valley you unveil. Some of the individual levels of the game are so complex, they took months to complete. Monument Valley is available via iTunes for $3.99.


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Modular Retrofit: Bamboo Micro-Homes in Deserted Factories

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

bamboo example demo unit

A pragmatic twist on visionary plug-and-play architecture, this project combines a cheap and fast-growing material with existing (abandoned) infrastructure to address the extensive needs of existing informal communities of Hong Kong.

bamboo dwelling infill plan

Putting buildings within buildings, the Bamboo Micro-Dwelling plan was born of both practical realities and city-in-the-sky ideas of Utopian Modernists like Le Corbusier.

bamboo micro dwelling factory

Designed by AFFECT-T, each basic micro-dwelling starts out at  just a few meters in length, width and height, with essential cooking, sleeping and sitting areas. Thanks to their placement inside a larger deserted structure, these units have fewer active-system, insulation and cladding demands than autonomous exterior equivalents would.

bamboo temporary home wall

bamboo factory deserted plan

Like a more formalized (less-dystopian) version of Kowloon Walled City, the design calls for community and education spaces to be built into the open spaces of the factory floors and voids between individual dwellings.

modular housing solution proposal

Within the bigger building around them, this group of “homes will be serviced through a singular backbone providing water and electricity to individual units and disposing of waste, while cooling, heating, structure, and enclosure are provided” at scale by their surroundings.

bamboo retrfofit temporary home

At the individual-unit level, flexibility “aids in the overall adaptability of the larger community as units can be joined and easily separated and altered as the population changes. “

bamboo interior dwelling configuration

The demand for such a solution definitely exists: in total, an estimated 280,000 Hong Kong residents are without permanent, stable and legal structures to call home.

bamboo loft room interior

However, these micro-dwelling deployments are conceived of not as a permanent state but, rather, a transitional set of spaces. They simply make maximum use of available materials and existing buildings to create effective temporary communities for a population that needs to be shifted off the streets and out of shacks toward sustainable long-term housing.


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Camera-Shaped Cafe Offers Picture-Perfect Cups of Coffee

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Camera Shaped Cafe 1

A giant two-story camera rises from the grass beside an ordinary suburban home in the hills of South Korea. The Dreamy Camera Cafe is housed in a re-creation of a vintage Rolleiflex, featuring two lens-like oversized windows offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Camera Shaped Cafe 3

Camera Shaped Cafe 4

The cafe was built by a former army helicopter pilot with a passion for photography and vintage cameras, who lives in the house next door with his family. A range of miniature and toy cameras are displayed on the first floor, with a collection of photographs tacked on the walls upstairs. The cafe even has paper towel holders shaped like film canisters.

Camera Shaped Cafe

Camera Shaped Cafe 2

It may be unusual, but the Dreamy Camera Cafe is hardly the first building shaped like a giant object – there’s a 40-foot-tall milk bottle building among others modeled after food items, and even a house shaped like a toilet. 


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Camera-Shaped Cafe Offers Picture-Perfect Cups of Coffee

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Camera Shaped Cafe 1

A giant two-story camera rises from the grass beside an ordinary suburban home in the hills of South Korea. The Dreamy Camera Cafe is housed in a re-creation of a vintage Rolleiflex, featuring two lens-like oversized windows offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Camera Shaped Cafe 3

Camera Shaped Cafe 4

The cafe was built by a former army helicopter pilot with a passion for photography and vintage cameras, who lives in the house next door with his family. A range of miniature and toy cameras are displayed on the first floor, with a collection of photographs tacked on the walls upstairs. The cafe even has paper towel holders shaped like film canisters.

Camera Shaped Cafe

Camera Shaped Cafe 2

It may be unusual, but the Dreamy Camera Cafe is hardly the first building shaped like a giant object – there’s a 40-foot-tall milk bottle building among others modeled after food items, and even a house shaped like a toilet. 


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Dissected Buildings: Sliced Facades are All Appearances

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[ By Steph in Art & Photography & Video. ]

Ghostly Building Facades 1

Ghostly building facades seem to have been sliced right off the buildings that should be attached to them, their skinny silhouettes rising from street level against the laws of physics. These structures are an architectural interpretation of the term ‘all style, no substance,’ presenting buildings as they look at first glance without the parts that you would see if you were to walk around the sides and back.

Ghostly Building Facades 2

Ghostly Building Facades 4

The ‘Façades’ series by French photographer Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy wondered what a city would look like if architecture was only scenery, with no actual places for people to carry out their daily lives. The building facades were isolated in Photoshop, the backgrounds filled in with other shots taken nearby.

Ghostly Building Facades 3

The resulting images are all the more eerie for the hints of life they still contain, like satellite dishes, bicycles and laundry draped on balcony railings.

Ghostly Building Facades 5

“This series offers a vision of an unknown world that would only be a picture, without intimate space, with looks as the only refuge,” says Gaurdillot-Roy.


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Spite Houses: 12 Structures Built Just to Annoy People

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Spite Houses Main

These houses, apartment buildings and commercial structures weren’t built as they are because the owners really loved the view or particularly wanted a five-foot-wide house just inches from the neighboring building. They came into being out of pure spite, or gleeful revenge, or the desire to seriously annoy adjacent property owners and city planners. Here are 12 amazingly spiteful structures, starting with a very recent example that riled up members of a certain infamously hateful church.

Gay Pride Flag Spite House Across from the Westboro Baptist Church

Spite House Gay Pride Westboro 1

Spite House Gay Pride Westboro 2

A house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound is now one big gay pride flag thanks to a man whose nonprofit group Planting Peace purchased the home and painted it in rainbow colors. That’s probably not exactly a welcome sight for members of the church, who are known for their virulently anti-gay views and for picketing military funerals. Five local Kansas City painters declined to participate in the job after learning what Jackson had in mind, but ‘Equality House‘ was finally completed and unveiled in March 2013. The house got lots of attention for the right reasons, but of course, the church had a typical response to it: “We thank God for Sodomite Rainbow House!” they said in an email to TIME, claiming it helps bring attention to their message.

Pie-Shaped Montlake Spite House, Seattle

Spite Houe Montlake Seattle

Measuring just 55 inches across its narrowest point, this wacky pie-shaped house was reputedly built to cut off a larger home from the street. According to local legend, a neighbor approached the owner of the land to purchase the plot in 1925, but at an insultingly low price, spurring the owner to build the ‘Montlake Spite House‘ in retaliation. Another story claims that the house was built when the wife of the owner was given the tiny, awkardly-shaped lot in the divorce settlement, while her ex got the rest of the property. The most recent homeowner has said that for the most part, the narrow profile of the house wasn’t a problem, except when she was cooking: she had to stand to one side to open the oven door to avoid pinning herself to the wall. The house recently sold for almost $400K.

Hollensbury Spite House, Alexandria, Virginia

Spite House Hollensbury

John Hollensbury, the owner of the white and red houses pictured, was sick of loiterers hanging out in the alley. So he built the Hollensbury Spite House, a 7-foot-wide, 25-foot-deep dwelling in the Old Town district in Alexandria, Virginia. The house’s two main walls are the brick walls of the adjacent structures, making it more of an enclosed alleyway than an actual house, but it has been used as a residence ever since.

The Skinny House of Boston, Massachusetts

Spite House Skinny Boston

Boston’s narrowest house measures just 10.5 feet across at its widest point, with the smaller portions about 6.5 feet wide, and can only be entered through a small alley. The four-level house was built shortly after the Civil War when two brothers inherited land from their deceased father. The legend claims that while one brother went away to serve in the war, the other built a large home, leaving the soldier little more than an alleyway. So when he returned, the soldier built the narrow house to ruin his brother’s view and cut off air and sunlight to the larger home.

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