While Chinese cities are blowing up and everybody wishes to ride the new technology wave by living on the newly developed urban area, the old traditional houses are being sold and then demolished. The last remaining ones are used as makeshift shelters for people whose role in new economy game is actually denied. Despite most of the old buildings are run-down, lodging is yet expensive and can easily exceeds the half of the weekly income for a migrant worker.
Seeming rich job offers reach the countryside everyday. The promise of profitable wages is tempting, especially compared to the average of the rural area.
By word of mouth, success stories are spreading around. However the reality of the metropolis is different and much harder for the newcomers who have to face a complex combination of issues: social discrimination, administrative incumbencies, violations of labor rights, detachment from the family of origin.
In this context the private life of migrants is heavily affected as wells as the urban and architectonic cultural heritage of the country.Kuo Ming Tang was an old mansion dated back 1920 with a significant role in the local history. Before being recognized as part of the national cultural heritage it has been used as a makeshift shelter by migrant workers. These forgotten people adapted the building to suit their basic needs even though they could not afford to repair or even to stop the advancing run-down conditions of the structures, which, day by day, were collapsing.
This is just an example out of millions across the whole country and it documents one of the consequences of the Chinese demographic explosion.Suzhou, China. Years 2011 2012All text and photographs © 2011-2012 Melanie Dornier