Research and other investigations by Matthew Niederhauser out of Beijing, China.

New South China Mall: The Empty Temple of Consumerism

A lone security guard watches over one of the empty courts at the South China Mall.

A local billionaire built it, and they did not come. The South China Mall was the most ambitious and largest retail space every conceived in China, if not the world, when it opened in 2005. Constructed smack in the middle of the Pearl River Delta between Shenzhen and Guangzhou, about 4 million people live within six miles of it, 9 million within twelve miles and 40 million within sixty miles. Nonetheless, six years later, the South China Mall only maintains a 1% occupancy rate at best. This unabatedly empty temple to consumerism remains unfinished on top floors and is only sporadically visited thanks to the attached amusement park, Amazing World. For the time being dust and dismembered mannequins reign over the 6.5 million square foot venture. Although China might be the fastest growing consumer market in the world, the South China Mall reveals the vulnerability of this burgeoning economic giant. Also, check out this short film done on the place by Sam Green.

Mannequins and shelving are all that remain of a shuttered clothing store in the South China Mall.

Much of the retail space in the South China Mall remains unfinished and layered in dust.The empty food court at the South China Mall.Much of the retail space in the South China Mall remains unfinished and layered in dust.

Some people still take boat rides on the canal winding through the empty South China Mall.Four abandoned mannequins are all that remain in this retail space at the South China Mall.A child and his parents play with remote control cars in the main hall of the empty South China Mall.

A security guard patrols the empty halls of the South China Mall on a bike.Advertising lightboxes remain empty at the South China Mall.The seven-floor parking lot of the South China Mall remains empty.

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8 Responses

  1. Pingback: Time Magazine: China Dreams | matthew niederhauser | mdnphoto blog | beijing photographer

  2. This blog is gorgeous! I love it with so many great details. Good job!

    October 20, 2011 at 11:13 am

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