Ordos, the stillborn city

by Adrien Golinelli


The world’s biggest new city, Ordos, is under construction in the desert of northern China. It has everything fancier than the others, but still lacks the most essential: its people.

CHF 13’302

166% of CHF 8’000

166 %
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The «all or nothing» principle applies: The project only receives the funds if the funding target is reached or exceeded.

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Successfully concluded on 25/12/2015

How to build a ghost city

The city of Ordos, in northern China, only exists since a 10 years, but it is already dead.

The biggest new city in the world, it has everything grander and everything fancier, but seems doomed to stay forever empty.

After thorough research on Ordos, I decided to go there in 2013. I smuggled my way into Inner Mongolia Province and eventually settled in Ordos for 2 months. I soaked myself in this strange place, criss-crossed every corner of it, trying to find the rare humans, and eventually amassed a thousand analog photographs.

Extravaganza in the steppe

This photo book is a dive into the surreal atmosphere of a modern-days Tower of Babel, where the only activity is the expansion of the city itself.

Could this be a glimpse into our own future? As much as Ordos can seem far away from our lives, it is just the visible tip of a widespread problem: The misallocation of ressources.

Coal is still the first source of energy in China, and is so abundant around Ordos that the region has amassed hoards of cash, which it is funneling towards this white elephant. in an absurd cycle, dead stones are transformed into money, and then to dead stones again.

Why make it a book?

Photographs tell different stories depending on how you assemble them. But that’s not the only reason.

My goal is to go beyond fine art and to add a layer of understanding, making it a documentary and an esthetic object at the same time. In addition to 150 photographs, 3 essays from the best specialists in their field will shed light on the social, economical, and environmental issues triggered by Ordos.

The goal of this book is to be both a graphic journey into a dystopian world, and a reflection on our times backed by in-depth analysis.

The timeline

I have a contract with Kehrer of Heidelberg (an reputed photo book publisher) to go on press by next January. After a year working on it, the draft is ready and I now need these CHF 8’000 to make the first half-payment to the printing house.

The book should be ready by early february, and you will be the first to recieve it.

Before Christmas I will send you a voucher in the form of a postcard that certifies your purchase. That way you could also offer it as a Christmas gift.


  • Large format (25cm x 33cm)
  • Hardcover
  • English language
  • 220 pages
  • 150+ photographs
  • Uncoated Munken White 150mg paper, used for fine art prints
  • 3 essays by recognized scholars
  • Preface by Christian Caujolle, founder of Agence VU