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A city is like a living organism, constantly growing and evolving with time. Buildings get renovated, new structures are added and old ones removed, and in this process bits and pieces get left behind. We have all seen them: a flight of stairs that ends in a blank wall, a door hovering on the exterior of the second floor with no balcony, a walled over doorway.

These architectural vestiges that serve no purposes have a name. They’re called “Thomassons”, a term coined by Japanese artist Genpei Akasegawa, who first began to notice these urban relics around Tokyo in 1972.

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A useless staircase at a house in Japan. Photo credit: yosukesan/Wikimedia

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