Doel, Belgium.

Since the 1970s this town has been threatened with complete demolition due to the planned extension of the Antwerp harbour. Because of succesful protests it was stopped until the 90s. The company in charge bought houses and refused to rent them out and has demolished whole streets of houses, this is in contra version with environmental, building and regulation laws in the province of Beveren. There is no economical basis to extend the harbour and the roads do not have capacity to take on more transport.

Today some 30-40 of the original 3000 inhabitants still live in this 800 year old town which is home to some interesting architecture such as the oldest brick built windmill in Belgium.There have been succesful court rules against the mayor and the company but in the end Doel was to be completely demolished in 2009, yet it is still there and its few inhabitants.This may have to do with KunstDoel or ArtDoel, many world famous artists have decorated the city and it serves as open air museum village. A lot of tourists, even in buses (I spotted one with school-teenagers and one with elderly people) come to have a look at Doel.

I guess today there is not much room for small traditional communities as they have to give way for industrial sites to keep the suburbs and cities alive. In China many towns have seen complete demolishing for the building of the ‘Three Gorges Dam’, where the inhabitants were paid to destroy their own homes and be moved into cities and suburbs.

I spent three days in Doel photographing, so many more photos to come =)

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