Phantom Brickworks

Antimetaphors of the Property Crisis in Spain


  • Pablo Arboleda University of Glasgow



antimetaphor, brickworks, housing bubble, industrial archaeology, modern ruins, Spain, 2008 financial crisis


Bailén is a small town in southern Spain where, during the housing bubble in the early 2000s, a third of the country's domestic housing-brick supply was produced. After the 2008 financial crash, two of the town's three brickworks shut down - leaving dozens of abandoned factories behind. By walking through these ghostly ruins and photographing their strangely beautiful aesthetics, the author reflects on the rise and fall of a development model based on construction. It is stated that, whilst the sole notion of ‘crisis' is abstract and cannot be visualised, phantom brickworks function as antimetaphors because, instead of representing the crisis, they are the crisis. The music is available on the NTS YouTube channel at


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Author Biography

Pablo Arboleda, University of Glasgow

Pablo Arboleda is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow, UK. His interdisciplinary focus on the study of modern ruins involves urban studies, heritage, cultural geography, contemporary archaeology and visual arts. His research addresses critical discourses, aesthetic approaches and participative practices of conservation and re-activation. Experimental methods and outputs are at the heart of his work, including film making, photo-essays, photo-comics and creative writing. For him, boundaries between academic and artistic practices are blurred.


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How to Cite

Arboleda, P. (2020). Phantom Brickworks: Antimetaphors of the Property Crisis in Spain. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 7(1), 79–94.



Visual Archaeologies