Photos

Removing Fish From a Surreal Abandoned Shopping Mall

Thousands of carp, tilapia and catfish will be relocated to less absurd settings by Bangkok officials.

Image REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Devoid of shoppers for years, Bangkok's New World shopping center is losing the thousands of fish that have more recently called the condemned mall home.

An estimated 3,000 fish, brought to the roofless, flooded building a decade ago by nearby vendors in hopes of controlling a burgeoning mosquito population, are being removed by Bangkok Metropolitan Administration staff. According to the Bangkok Post, once the fish are captured, they'll be brought to Thailand's Department of Fisheries research and development labs before being released into various water bodies across Thailand.

The water will be drained from the abandoned structure after all the fish are gone, but government officials won't be giving New World a new roof. Closed since 1997, the BMA is also demanding 10 million baht ($306,000) in demolition costs from New World's owners.  

Located in the city's Banglamphu district, Thailand's Supreme Court ordered a partial demolition of the shopping center in 1997 when judges determined that seven of the 11 floors were built illegally. Since the court-ordered demolition, the remaining four floors have been left exposed to the elements while becoming one of the world's strangest fisheries and attracting the awe of abandoned mall gawkers around the world.

Although entering the former shopping center is illegal, the Post reports that many were still making their way in, sometimes just to feed the fish, before officials swept in this month.

Workers collect fish inside an abandoned department store in Bangkok January 13, 2015. (REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)
Fish are caught inside an abandoned department store in Bangkok January 13, 2015. (REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)
A worker holds a fishing net inside an abandoned department store in Bangkok January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom  (REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)
People watch workers collecting fish inside an abandoned department store in Bangkok January 13, 2015.  (REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)
Workers collect fish inside an abandoned department store in Bangkok January 13, 2015.  (REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)
Workers collect fish inside an abandoned department store in Bangkok January 13, 2015.  (REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)
A worker holds a fish inside an abandoned department store in Bangkok January 13, 2015.  (REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)

About the Author

  • Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design, history, and photography.