Khazar Islands - A failed urban dream ?

During my time in the Azeri Capital, working on my Crude Gentrification Story, I tried to visit and learn about as many places and project as possible . The Khazar Islands project is by far the one that surprised me the most ! This gigantic complex, as large as a small city is suppose to be spread on 30 Km2 over the caspian Sea and house about a million residents over luxury villas and supposely the tallest tower in the world ( Azerbaijan Tower ) . As per the wikipidia page , the project is suppose to go and be finished by 2025 but the reality seems otherwise. The site has been abandoned after only a few of the buildings have been erected. The Khazar Islands project can be seen as a reflection of the situation in Azerbaijan, a country that is trying hard to shine through new urban development and international event but that fails to see its realities . Here are a few images of it and some renders of the project found on the wikipedia page.

Only the entrance building with its swimming pool seems to rise at the entrance - here below a few of the rendering of how the project should look like 

Urban Farming in China | Chongqing Series

The latest part of my Chongqing project is focusing on the Urban Farming phenomenon in China

Ren Yindi. After following the transition from an Rural Hukou to an Urban one, he could not find any other way to provide for himself and his family than to go back to farm whatever lands was available around his apartment in a high rise tower.

Ren Yindi. After following the transition from an Rural Hukou to an Urban one, he could not find any other way to provide for himself and his family than to go back to farm whatever lands was available around his apartment in a high rise tower.

Urban farming is so common in Chongqing that it is part of the city’s landscape. From small pieces of land on the side of a road to mud hills on giant construction sites, every piece of earth is good to be farmed. Unlike in the West, where well-educated urban residents are turning to urban farming as a hobby or as part of a hip, modern lifestyle, urban farming in China instead points to the heart of several issues surrounding rapid development and, at times, forced urbanisation. China faces the need to alter its economy away from an over-reliance on exports and towards an economy that has a healthy domestic market of its own. While China’s urban population is developing consumer habits already, China’s rural population exists largely at subsistence level, and contributes almost nothing the consumer economy. The Chinese government understands that if this population were moved in to cities then it would no longer be self-sufficient, and would therefore depend on - and contribute to - this consumer ecosystem. Urbanisation then, is one of the most important tools China has in strengthening its economy. Of the four municipalities of China, Chongqing is the only one that holds a significant rural population - around two thirds of the municipality’s 30 million residents are rural - and as such, Chongqing is leading the way for urbanisation in China.

Chongqing plans to urbanise half of its rural population within a 10-year period, meaning a full 10 million residents will need to transform their lives from that of a rural existence to that of an urban consumer between the years of 2007 and 2017. While some rural residents move to the city out of choice, others are relocated to the city by the government, and many of these are ill-equipped to deal with city life. They may have little or no formal education and a great deal of residents struggle to adapt to urban life. Instead of joining the commerce economy, some return to what they know; farming, and they do this wherever they can find unused land.

Huang Chunying and her husband work barefoot on a land above the new business developments of the Tiandi Project.

Huang Chunying and her husband work barefoot on a land above the new business developments of the Tiandi Project.

One of the many walls of china | between fast urbanisation and its population trying to catch up.

One of the many walls of china | between fast urbanisation and its population trying to catch up.

Wang Chengyun helping his uncle to clear lands in the new developed district of Jiangbei in Chongqing

Wang Chengyun helping his uncle to clear lands in the new developed district of Jiangbei in Chongqing

One of the newest addition to the modern Chongqing landscape, the Tiandi business center.

One of the newest addition to the modern Chongqing landscape, the Tiandi business center.

More of those photos directly on the website porfolio:
http://www.timfranco.com/chongqing-urban-farm/

China File also published the story this week :
http://www.chinafile.com/multimedia/photo-gallery/Between-Rock-and-Hard-Place

Moving Mountains to Create Cities for the Wall Street Journal

Last month, I was assigned on a story for the Wall Street Journal to photography a city in Hubei that was looking through urban and economical expansion by removing the mountains around the city. The story was really visual and the images talk for themselves.

Wall Street Journal Press Clip | Cities in China in Drive for Land