Want to feel small? Step inside an abandoned cooling tower

Cooling towers are stupidly large, some towering more than 800 feet tall. And according to Reginald Van de Velde, who has spent quite a lot of time inside them, they look bigger from within. “You feel really little in them,” he says.

The structures have to be enormous to do their job. Thermoelectric power plants use coal, gas or nuclear energy to heat water and create steam. Once that steam drives the turbines that generate power, it’s pumped to the top of the tower. Billions of droplets rain down to the bottom, chilling out along the way.

Van de Velde lives in Belgium, which has in recent years shuttered its coal-fired power plants. His fascination with photographing desolate buildings started in childhood, so when he heard about an abandoned plant in Charleroi in 2009, he and some friends checked it out. They climbed the staircase to the cooling tower, found the service hatch open, and stepped into a mesmerising world.

Read the full article about Van de Velde here.