manuel alvarez diestro's boxification features container landscapes in asia

manuel alvarez diestro's boxification features container landscapes in asia


in today’s world, 93% of international commerce moves by sea. billions of tonnes are transported yearly, with an ocean freight forecasted to grow 4.7% annually for the next decade. nowadays containers have become a core element of globalization, enabling commercial interchanges of various nature from far fetched locations. overwhelmed by the presence of containers and the space optimization, photographer manuel alvarez diestro presents ‘boxification’, a series that reflects on sea freight containers in a collection of images captured across asian ports.

hong-kong port



sea freight containers when placed in the asian mega ports are piled in the the thousands and together they create new landscapes where they rival the surrounding nature and integrate with the cities that we build. ‘boxification’ by manuel alvarez diestro captures the colorful geometries bordering the water, and their standardization across countries, cultures and means of transportation. this transnational discourse summarised in a standard steel box is a case of mutual understanding, of easiness to do business, the staple of international commerce.

shanghai new port, china



in this world of standardisation governed by the hidden port operator, the artist further reflects around the content of those sea freight containers: what do they keep? and most powerful, from a photographic perspective the boxes seem to have conquered the landscape where they are the new canon.

new busan port, south korea



‘they are enigmatic spaces that withhold the nature of its content: electrical appliances, mangoes, medicines, laptops, toys, clothes, avocados, furniture, wine, machinery, vehicle parts, books. all stacked up together, are classified, all travelling to different destinations, all alien to their surroundings, anonymous in darkness and waiting to be consumed by one of us.’manuel alvarez diestro.

busan port, south korea

shanghai new port, china

kaohsiung port, taiwan

phnom penh, cambodia

busan, south korea

shanghai new port, china

busan port, south korea

jakarta port, indonesia



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

  • Fabulous. Modern landscape photography, where the artifacts of modern “civilization” eclipse land forms, gives an interesting contrast. Jimi Hendrix would have called this series “Boxy Ladies.”

    Steven Lewis says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

art news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,399 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample