Welcome to the most ironically-named city in China. A would-be utopia, rapidly constructed for a population of one million (that failed to materialize), the futuristic city of Ordos, which takes its name from ordo, the Mongolian word for crowd and the root for the English word 'horde', has been almost totally abandoned. The stunning landscape left behind in the following images is both disturbing and confirming of China's epic mal-investment boom...
The images, taken by Shanghai-based photographer Raphael Olivier and shared at Creative Boom, depict a strange modern ghost town. The city, in the Inner Mongolia region, was constructed under the old "if you build it, they will come" motto, but the teeming masses have never made their way to Ordos.
The city includes dormant schools, sports complexes, hospitals, convention centers, and other major facilities, all completed between 2005 and 2010. The Chinese building boom has seen many new cities become overnight metropolises, but Ordos City failed to replicate that success.
"The city is now a surreal landscape of empty streets, decaying monuments, abandoned buildings and half-finished housing projects," writes Olivier. "It is more than anywhere the symbol of the Chinese Dream with all its challenges and contradictions, an Orwellian vision of a bright future caught up by a less flamboyant reality."
The city's most fantastical structures include the Ordos Museum, designed by China's MAD Archictects, which resembles a tiled metal blob overlooking the Gobi Desert.
Like the rest of the city, the museum was apparently built without much forethought: "As for the gallery spaces, we didn't know what kind of exhibitions they would hold, so they are designed to be flexible," the architecture firm told ArchDaily.
"This plaza is now a favorite amongst the locals who gather their families and friends to explore, play or lounge in the pleasant landscape," wrote de zeen magazine upon Ordos's completion in 2011, in a rather premature judgment.
Based on reports from intrepid photojournalists and travelers, including the Bohemian Blog, the city's residents (reportedly just 20,000 souls, or two percent of the total capacity) largely consist of construction crews, maintenance workers, and random employees.
See more of Olivier's photos of Ordos below:
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This is what happens when the central planners get drunk on their own hopium-laced Kool-Aid.