Surreal photos of China’s failed ‘city of the future’

Ordos, China, once flush with cash, has been called the world’s largest ghost town.

In the early 2000s, a coal-mining boom led the local government to throw money at urban development in the hopes of creating a new epicenter of culture, economy, and politics.

Ordos New Town, also known as Kangbashi, would hold 1 million people and be known for its massive abstract architecture projects, residential towers, and state-of-the-art sports venues. (Developers later scaled back the concept city to accommodate 300,000 people.)

But high property taxes and poor construction deterred people from settling in Ordos. In 2016, some 100,000 people lived and worked there — leaving the city two-thirds empty.

“The whole city feels like a post-apocalyptic space station straight out of a science fiction movie,” says the photographer Raphael Olivier, who captured the city in a series titled “Ordos — A Failed Utopia.”

Olivier shared some of his spectacular images with us. You can check out more on his website.

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