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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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