American Tobacco

The resurrection of the long-derelict American Tobacco campus in downtown Durham, North Carolina, is an object lesson in using the restoration and repurposing of an old industrial area to revitalise an entire town. The thirteen or so buildings that make up the campus now support a wide range of startups, restaurants and coffee shops, galleries, a theatre and the obligatory loft apartments. In doing so, they’ve retained much of the infrastructure of sheds, silos, gantries and water channels that served the old factories, creating a framework within which the new functions are woven. The whole effect is interesting, funky and a hipster’s dream. The delicious irony of course is that the entire campus, indoors and out, is now strewn with “No Smoking” signs.

From a photographer’s perspective, the colours and textures are rich, subtle and varied. I do however favour monochrome for old industrial buildings, as it focusses the eye on the strong shapes and patterns of the structures and on their defining play of light and shade.