Let a Hundred McMansions Bloom

Jan 24, 2015 by



The Dong Dianhu Manor housing development west of Shanghai. Credit Photograph by George Steinmetz

In the Dianshan Lake region, less than 40 miles west of central Shanghai, the appetite for speculative real estate has driven developers into China’s most fertile land, the Yangtze Delta. Only about half of the luxury villas like those on the following pages, which can be as big as 6,300 square feet and sell for as much as $1.5 million, are occupied — mostly as second homes. The rest sit empty, as the housing sector staggers under a surplus. The photographer George Steinmetz, who visited the area last fall, describes the transition as converting “rice farms to high-end McMansions.” As that process plays out, the country’s domestic rice consumption is set to soon outpace rice production. Marnie Hanel

Average size of home in China: 1,076 square feet


Apartment buildings that were built to compensate displaced farmers. Credit Photograph by George Steinmetz

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