The Ordos Real Estate Bubble: An Empty Chinese Metropolis

Two workers walk along a megablock development in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

The arid landscape around Ordos was never a forgiving place. Its remoteness and lack of ground water always kept growth in check. Now the Inner Mongolian mining center produces a third of China’s coal and the municipal government decided to use the extra revenues to literally build an entire new city. Located 25 kilometers west of the old town, the Kangbashi/康巴什 new district sports a museum, opera house, library, cultural center, sculpture parks, malls and endless rows of megablock housing. Designed to accomodate a population upwards to a million people, only 30,000 have decided to make the move into the newfangled developments. For now the strange new city that popped out of the sands remains largely deserted. Only a handful of locals walk amidst the abstract shapes and glass-covered malls of Kangbashi. It is one of many locations in China that point to a real estate bubble just waiting to pop.

The new and yet to be opened museum in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

Trees are planted in the arid soil in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

Luxury villas line developments in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia..An advertisement depicts a family literally exploding with Coke in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.The new opera house incorporates Mongolian design elements in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

A local peruses an overstocked and underused deparment store in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.Two security guards stand in front of a waterfront plaza in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.A bed display at an overstocked department store in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

A local poses in a boat on the man-made lake in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.An advertisement for a new development sports luxury cars and models in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.A worker walks along a road in front of megablock developments in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

Workers rest in front of the impressive facade of the new museum in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.Two massive horses rise out of the central plaza in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.Workers assemble public sculptures in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

Two workers walk up a dusty road surrounded by megablock developments in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.The Huge sculpture instillations dot the landscape in Kangbashi, the new district of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

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    1. “What If the China Bubble Bursts?” – An Empty Chinese Metropolis in Time Magazine | matthew niederhauser | mdnphoto blog | beijing photographer

      [...] but I have been traveling a lot recently. Last month Time Magazine featured my photographs from The Ordos Real Estate Bubble: An Empty Chinese Metropolis series in a piece on China’s precarious real estate market. Property prices have been [...]

      Nov 14, 2011 @ 4:25 am


    2. dan Torres

      dear Matthew,

      i am the director of photography of Jeune Afrique magazine.
      Based in Paris and mainly distributed in Africa, Middle east and Maghreb.
      We would like to publish your picture of the Ordos museum.
      Do you allow us to publish it and what are your conditions?
      best regards
      Dan Torres
      00 33 1 44 30 19 21

      Jan 25, 2012 @ 6:58 pm


    3. An Empty Chinese Metropolis in Conde Nast Traveler | matthew niederhauser | mdnphoto | beijing artist

      [...] of my photographs from the amazingly ridiculous Kangbashi district in Ordos was featured in Conde Nast Traveler this [...]

      Mar 13, 2012 @ 1:27 am


    4. Juan Vargas

      Matthew,

      I am writing a book about China, it´s written in Spanish and it hopes to educate people in Latin America about China on a range of topics.

      I would like to use a picture from Ordos, what are the conditions?

      Cheers,

      Juan

      Sep 18, 2014 @ 2:13 am

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