by now we’re used to seeing protective structures rising over the natural landscape, but have we ever wondered why they’re there? hamburg-based photographer claudius schulze has embarked himself in the mission of capturing these idyllic topographies with a large format view camera, not to define the boundary between artificial and natural, but to highlight how these man-made structures allow us to enjoy these sceneries.

claudius schulze state of nature designboom
folkestone—great britain: during a lazy day at the beach, safety is taken for granted. but the sheer massiveness of the breakwater suggests the potential force of nature. without this barrier and similar bulwarks elsewhere, people would not be able to enjoy nature as they do today.

all images © claudius schulze



crossing over 50,000 kilometers across europe, schulze has photographed different landscapes that have been intervened by man. from alpine panoramas intersected by snow sheds, to the north sea coast furrowed by breakwaters, the collection of images recalls how humans have battled gales, floods and even avalanches. thanks to them, ‘the sunshine sparkles on the surface of the mountain lakes only because it was artificially damned and the dunes only rise because they are protected against storm surges.’


in ‘state of nature’, the photographer creates a visual interpretation of how defensive structures against climate change have become inseparable from the natural landscapes as we know them.

claudius schulze state of nature designboom
lac d’emosson—switzerland: this reservoir is fairly remote in the mont blanc massif. despite the strenuous journey, I traveled there several times to catch the cable car in the foreground in operation. but I had bad luck every time. today, I am convinced that the photograph is actually better without it.

claudius schulze state of nature designboom
bort-les-orgues—france: while built for a hydroelectric power plant, the dam in bort-les-orgues successfully prevents flooding along the downstream dordogne.

claudius schulze state of nature designboom
neeltje jans—the netherlands: in the middle of the oosterscheldedam, the artificial island of neeltje jans was built to facilitate the construction of the dam. many of the lagoons created in zeeland by the coastal defenses are now used for oyster and mussel farming.

claudius schulze state of nature designboom
book state of nature

claudius schulze state of nature designboom

book state of nature

claudius schulze state of nature designboom

book state of nature

claudius schulze state of nature designboom

book state of nature

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