Branislav Kropilak is fascinated by industrial architecture. After several years living abroad, he was pleased to return to his native Slovakia so that he could photograph factories. “Many people don’t like them because they’re factories and they smell bad,” he says, “but I was always amazed by how they look – like out-of-space cities.”
The 27-year-old is following in the footsteps of legendary German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher, who documented blast furnaces, cooling towers and grain elevators around the world, treating them as rigorous architectural typologies. Kropilak’s structures, however, are more alive. They glow menacingly, like Archigram cities with a will of their own.
The Factories series, which documents oil refineries on the outskirts of Bratislava and nearby Vienna, is photographed entirely at night. “I love to work at night,” says Kropilak. “I shoot from 2am to 4am, that’s my best time because I know nobody will disturb me, and things just look different.” That sense of desolation pervades all of the photographer’s work, whether it’s garages, hotel lobbies or looking up the masts of highway billboards. Kropilak’s next series is about petrol pumps.