manuel alvarez diestro documents the machine-filled landscapes of asian mega ports

manuel alvarez diestro documents the machine-filled landscapes of asian mega ports

manuel alvarez diestro has traveled across asia’s main coastal cities for a two-year period to photograph the mega ports of busan, ulsan, hong kong, shanghai, singapore, jakarta, quingdao, tokyo, and kaohsiung. reflecting on their role as key enablers of globalization, the photo series also explores the ever-increasing role of technology and automated machinery in their development and eventual homogeneity.

manuel alvarez diestro documents the machine-filled landscapes of asian mega ports designboom
hong-kong port, china
all photographs © manuel alvarez diestro



‘as world commerce expands and offshoring has become widespread, a large percentage of manufactured goods begin their journey in asian ports, while shipbuilding has become a purely asian craft,’ notes manuel alvarez diestro. within this context, the photographer has captured the soul of these places, ‘where sea water, steel, and concrete converge in the territory.’ the images highlight the lack of human presence amidst the massive-scale infrastructure, in which workers become mere operators of indistinguishable locations whose main standing pillars comprise globalization, ocean and freight.

tokyo port, japan



the photographs depict cranes, engines, containers, tugboats, wharfs, and panamax ships as the main visual features of all asian mega ports, emphasizing the eerie commonality across them. ‘all locations are interchangeable, awash with technology, by-products of globalization, lacking the human heritage that purports the long standing cultural traditions of the inhabitants in their nations,’ the spanish photographer points out. ‘it is a story of men harnessing the sea, port technology enabling land – sea interchange and urban sprawl encroaching to the very border of the machine-dominated, vast landscapes that dot the asian coastline.’ 

qingdao port, china

busan port, south korea

busan new container terminal, south korea

ulsan port, south korea

singapore port, singapore

shanghai new container terminal, china

ulsan port, south korea

qingdao port, china

busan port, south korea

kaohsiung port, taiwan



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.


edited by: sofia lekka angelopoulou | designboom

    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
    LOG IN
    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
    502,402 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample