The transformation of Shanghai into a global mega-city has come with a human cost. The destruction of long-standing neighbourhoods to make way for shopping malls and skyscrapers is not popular with residents, who often feel inadequately compensated or offered alternative accommodation only in newly developed suburbs far away from jobs, schools and family.
While negotiations take place, or alternatively the property is demolished while still occupied, a stand off is the normal course of events. This has led to the phenomenon of the ‘Nail House’, a single house left standing in the middle of a pre-development wasteland - a building as immovable as a nail driven deep into a piece of wood. Some nail houses withstand the demolition gang for for years, whilst others last only a few days in the face of sustained intimidation and dirty tricks. Utilities are disconnected leaving only the most basic sanitary conditions and the use of illegally pirated electricity.
This series was photographed in several locations across Shanghai.
If the occupants leave the property - even for a short time - it may have been demolished by the time they get back.
Demolition vehicles appear in the late afternoon, ready to start work as soon as darkness falls.
The Chinese flag is flown as a symbol of resistance to the forced eviction.
Three ages of traditional Shikumen housing.
From vibrant longstanding community to hi-rent exclusivity.