Both thrilling and frightening, massive urban growth is one of the global features of our time. City+ is a large, sprawling series of photographs that explores striking developments in global regions at the forefront of this growth. 

China is the central focus of the feature shown here, with a selection of photographs from other regions included at the end.  

New commercial towers and communist era low-rise housing, Chengdu
New commercial towers and communist era low-rise housing, Chengdu

Scale, bulk and distance are the key features of city vistas now prevalent throughout China. With slick new residential towers replacing communist era low-rises and hutong networks, and infrastructure & industrial hubs encroaching on rural areas, a new way of life is unfurling itself over the past.

Industrial construction and landscaping, Eco City, Tianjin
Industrial construction and landscaping, Eco City, Tianjin
New residential towers overlooking communist era apartment blocks, Changsha
New residential towers overlooking communist era apartment blocks, Changsha
New residential towers rising among hutong networks and old apartment blocks, Changsha
New residential towers rising among hutong networks and old apartment blocks, Changsha
Landscaping and infrastructure, Yubei industrial district, Chongqing Municipality
Landscaping and infrastructure, Yubei industrial district, Chongqing Municipality

Situated in central China, Chongqing Municipality is the largest in the country. The Jialing and Yangtze rivers also meet in Chongqing city, making the area a key manufacturing and transportation hub. The Daba mountains situated north east of Chongqing, dominate the route to the important cluster of large cites in east of the country; Wuhan, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai. The dramatic mountains are peppered with the infrastructure of connection and industry linking the two key regions.

Infrastructure, Daba Mountains, Hubei Province
Infrastructure, Daba Mountains, Hubei Province
Industrial park, near Fengdu, Chongqing Municipality
Industrial park, near Fengdu, Chongqing Municipality
Infrastructure, Daba Mountains, Hubei Province
Infrastructure, Daba Mountains, Hubei Province

The structures and transformations of the cities reflect China’s experience of globalisation, the opportunities, challenges and social shifts it brings. Developing an aspirational consumerism and tapping into the wealth of the affluent urban population has been a key feature of China’s economic development. Great disruption and upheaval is caused with large swathes of city areas being cleared for retail villages, shopping malls and expensive apartment blocks. 

Old housing clearance, Shenyang
Old housing clearance, Shenyang
Edge of city retail village construction, Suzhou
Edge of city retail village construction, Suzhou
Landscaping and residential, Shenyang
Landscaping and residential, Shenyang

Some of the world’s most extravagant and ambitious architecture is found in China’s main cities. They create business and commercial districts that reconfigure the cities around themselves. The architecture of Beijing’s Central Business District pushing ever higher in an already vast city, illustrates well the magnitude of the urban era we’re living in.

Central Business District skyline and residential, Beijing
Central Business District skyline and residential, Beijing

Cairo

Landscaping and infrastructure, Cairo Festival City, New Cairo
Landscaping and infrastructure, Cairo Festival City, New Cairo
Looking towards Mokattam Hills, south east Cairo
Looking towards Mokattam Hills, south east Cairo

Cairo is an old city struggling with the tensions of overcrowding and the social shifts globalisation can bring. This is illustrated in the contrasts of its development, which spans from uncoordinated home building and extensions often by families themselves, through to large pre-designed satellite districts. These districts look to ease the overcrowding and congestion of the city but exacerbate other problems such as inequality and social cohesion.

Looking towards Mokattam Hills, south east Cairo
Looking towards Mokattam Hills, south east Cairo

Doha

West Bay skyline on reclaimed land, Doha
West Bay skyline on reclaimed land, Doha

In Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, brand new skylines have shot up in the last few decades. With epic construction programmes these once minor cities at the heart of Bedouin territory, have transformed themselves into ready-made arenas for global finance and cultural showcasing. An unprecedented streamlined urbanisation to immediately put themselves on the map.

The National Museum of Qatar, Doha
The National Museum of Qatar, Doha

Dubai

Daria Island construction, Dubai
Daria Island construction, Dubai
Landscaping and construction, Business Bay, Dubai
Landscaping and construction, Business Bay, Dubai

Marassi, Egypt

Landscaping, Marassi
Landscaping, Marassi
Marassi, Egypt
Marassi, Egypt
Marassi, Egypt

Marassi on the Egyptian north coast, is a vast pre-designed urban complex. 120km east of Alexandria and being built over decades, it is a resource hungry transformation of desert and harsh coastline into residential, leisure and commercial facilities. Crisp modernist apartments, homes with luscious gardens, golf courses and lagoons are being built from scratch in the desert.

Hi Tony, thank you for sharing your photography project with us. Could you please tell us a little about yourself? 
I'm a photographer from Belfast now living in Bath, UK.
Since finishing my MA in Fine Art & Visual Culture in 2000, I have been probing at the narratives inherent in the structures and transformations of urban growth around the world.
In the sweeping views of City+, the intense attention to structure, detail and surface of Crowned, through to a particular look at two Chinese city centres in Flat-Pack, my work illustrates a fascination with urbanism as the boldest expression of social structures acting on us.
 
I have received several photography awards including Architectural Photographer of the Year at the ND awards in 2016. And most recently been a winner of PDN's Curator, Fine Art Photography award, 2019. My work has also been included in several international exhibitions, most recently ‘Look’ Photo Biennial Liverpool in Oct 2019, the PDN award exhibition, Canoe Studios, NY Oct 2019 and the LA Month of Photography in May 2018.
 
For my commercial architectural work I have photographed many high profile projects around the world. These include:

1 World Trade Centre, NY / Hudson Yards, NY / Christies, Shanghai / The National Museum of Qatar, Doha / BBC Broadcasting House, London / BBC Media City, Manchester  / Hoglands, Grade 1 listed restoration of Henry Moore's former home & etching studio / Tate, St. Ives

More from this project and further projects by Tony McArteer can be found online

tonymcateer.co.uk

Instagram @tonymcateer1