The House in the Woods is a fascinating collection of photographs that show wild animals appropriating an abandoned home as habitat for themselves. It is an old house where the roof leaks, the walls are cracked and the windows have remained shut for years. Wooden plank floors creak, and doors harshly squeak. This house may surely look long forgotten, but just like in a fairy tale, it comes to life thanks to its unlikely inhabitants.
Around some odd 40 years ago, a family of 13 lived in this cottage in Suomusjärvi, Salo, Finland. They have long gone since then, and though the homes are in very shabby condition, this dwelling once occupied by people is now shelter to many woodland creatures. The original occupants left the home after tragedy struck when the owner perished in a fire.
Award-winning Finnish photographer Kai Fagerström stumbled upon the house (and animals) while having a stroll in the woods surrounding his own summer cottage. Fagerström was able to spot and photograph some rather adorable and furry inhabitants, which include include squirrels, badgers, foxes, owls, raccoons, mice and ferrets.
“Deserted buildings are so full of contradictions… I am fascinated by the way nature reclaims spaces that were, essentially, only ever on loan to humans,” says Fagerström of the once abandoned, but now occupied homes.
Fagerström has spent the past 15 years documenting the secret life of such places. He typically starts off with a specific image in mind, which he sometimes achieves relatively quickly. But it often takes a substantial amount of time for all the elements to come together in just the correct way, especially the subject. “This is fine with me,” he says. “The journey is more important than the destination.”
The House in the Woods started as a few snapshots, and eventually ended up being a book, published in German, Finnish, and English, which initially saw print in 2010. It notably appeared in National Geographic Magazine in 2012. Fagerström was prizewinner in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition for two years, during 2010 and 2012. In 2011, he was Finnish Wildlife photographer and overall Winner in 2012 of the IFWPY contest.
See The House in the Woods collection here.