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Le Gazomètre

“If you have any fear of heights or claustrophobia you should never enter a gasometer. It is a weird, unnatural place, a purely technical construction meant to hold and to distribute gas.”

Jan Stel, Le Gazomètre-01

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Jan Stel, Le Gazomètre

A gasholder, sometimes called a gasometer, is a large container in which coal gas is stored near atmospheric pressure at ambient temperatures. Inside this forgotten gasometer, the oxygen levels are dangerously low, especially when the weather is hot and there’s almost no wind. It is a giant, closed tube with just a few openings for breathing. These openings were in fact used for control and construction works. The volume of the container follows the quantity of stored gas. Pressure was applied using the weight of a telescopic, movable cap. Heavyweight pulleys mounted on the cap are connected with steel cables that roll up or down. Sometimes these tanks are reconverted into diving facilities, but a sauna with a swimming pool would also work.

“When I entered the gasometer, it took several minutes for my eyes did adjust to the darkness. It was also difficult to get used to standing on the small metal ring of plates that surrounds the tube. It is not smart to bend over too much because the feeling of dizziness is very extreme. Getting down the small stairway with my photo gear was a bit tricky as well. But I was rewarded with an amazing view all around the impressive construction. I have spent many hours inside while taking long-exposure photographs. It was a great challenge to master the technical compositions with my optical perfected tilt/shift lenses. When climbing up the stairs again, the fresh air and light were very welcoming.”

Jan Stel, Le Gazomètre Jan Stel, Le Gazomètre Jan Stel, Le Gazomètre Jan Stel, Le Gazomètre