Earlier this week, the photographer Maria Passer visited some of the ice-covered abandoned buildings of Vorkuta, a dwindling coal-mining city north of the Arctic Circle, in Russia’s Komi Republic. Temperatures in Vorkuta can drop as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit in the coldest winter months. Fewer than half of the city’s once-active coal mines still operate today, and the ongoing unemployment crisis has driven residents to leave by the thousands, abandoning huge Soviet-era housing blocks to the elements. Every winter, the snow and ice move in, encrusting what used to be people’s living rooms, offices, and bedrooms.
Ice crystals completely cover a chandelier and the ceiling it hangs from. in an abandoned building in Vorkuta, Komi Republic, Russia, on March 1, 2021.
An aerial view of snow- and ice-covered abandoned buildings near Vorkuta, Russia, on March 1, 2021.
Ice and snow invade a stairwell and living space in an abandoned building in Vorkuta, seen on March 1, 2021.
Ice hangs from deteriorating and abandoned buildings in the Severny region, near Vorkuta.
Left: Ice takes over a living space. Right: An aerial view of some abandoned buildings and an industrial facility, near Vorkuta.
An arial view of snow-covered trucks and heavy equipment that have been parked for a long time at a construction site in Vorkuta, on March 1, 2021.
A stairwell is coated in ice in an abandoned building in the Severny region, near Vorkuta.
An entryway to one of the abandoned buildings in the Sementnozavodsky region.
An interior view of an ice-covered bathroom in an abandoned building in the Sementnozavodsky region, 19 kilometers from the coal-mining town of Vorkuta, photographed on March 1, 2021.