“VENTURE TO THE OUTSKIRTS OF China’s biggest cities and you’ll find soaring towers and a barren landscape. One day, these futuristic high-rises will house the 250 million or so people the government hopes to move from villages into cities. For now, though, they remain all but empty. “They look like ghost towns,” says photographer Aurelien Marechal. “They’re suburbs in the middle of nowhere.”
China’s relocation plan is designed to give those in poor, rural areas access to healthcare, schools, and jobs. To entice people into the cities, the government is paying people for their land and subsidizing their housing in gargantuan towers that stand 40 stories or more.
Marechal, who has lived in Shanghai since 2012, noticed the developments during a train ride to Nanjing. He found their size and location intriguing and spent two years documenting their construction in 15 cities throughout the country. The images in Block look like an abandoned civilization, a dystopian vision of a city immediately and completely emptied. Exactly the opposite is happening, of course, as China’s plan to relocate people fills the standing suburbs waiting to house them.”