You'll never guess what the Sochi 2014 Olympic venues look like now. Well, actually they are just as you would imagine: abandoned and desolate. After hosting the games in February, the small alpine town of Rosa Khutor is now empty, and Russian photographer Alexander Belenkiy ventured up there to get some great photographs of the village. He describes it as a "ghost town," a "huge wasteland" that's "abandoned."
To be fair, it looks roughly like any ski-area in the summer season, but a little more lifeless, which is cause for concern.
The Olympics typically do this to places. They are built for a small series of events, and when they are over, the venues and other buildings become disused, and fast. There are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, the newly-constructed venues do not have the athletics or community support to keep going after the torch goes out. But what makes Russia's version of Olympic ruins different?
For one thing, the buildings weren't entirely completed. So in some ways, they never truly existed as a finished product, making for bizarre follies during the games, and even more so now. Never-installed toilets and palates of unused exterior finishes remind us just how temporary and disposable Olympics buildings can be. The rate at which these new images crop up, coupled with the flood of pictures of unfinished bathrooms that we saw in the run up to the event, create a new type: the instant ruin.
It's not just the speed at which these hastily-built structures became unused that makes the images uncanny, but the architecture's spectacular nature. With their sharp sense of symmetry, arches, columns, pilasters, and triumphal entrances, the style resembles a melding of Russian Imperial and American post-modern eras. Indeed, the buildings' lofty ambitions make the scenes all the more tragic.