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Urban Village Transformation: Life in Transition

Snooker as a Community Focal Point in Kunming’s Changing Urban Landscape

In 2010, an urban village on the outskirts of Kunming, in Yunnan province, southern China, was on the brink of major change. This neighborhood, marked for demolition to make room for modern complexes and buildings, highlighted the swift urbanization that characterizes much of contemporary China. Despite the impending transformation, life in the village continued.

In the midst of a neighborhood marked by wear and tear, with brick buildings showing signs of age and neglect, crossed by unpaved streets littered with debris, stood a snooker table, in stark contrast to the surrounding decay. The snooker table became a temporary focal point for the residents. Against the backdrop of crumbling structures and shuttered shops, the game of snooker brought a sense of normalcy and camaraderie.


The photographs, taken by Matteo Damiani, capture various aspects of this transitional period. One image shows two men deeply engrossed in their game, their focus evident as they aim their cues. Around them, onlookers, including children and adults, form an informal audience.


The residents faced displacement as urban development projects advanced, leading to relocation. Compensation for these relocations was inconsistent, sometimes fair but often not, posing challenges such as inadequate compensation and the disruption of established communities. This process brought significant problems, including the loss of familiar surroundings and the struggle to rebuild social networks in new environments. The emotional and psychological impact of such displacements was profound, as residents grappled with the loss of their homes and the sense of community they had built over the years.


The village, once bustling with activity, slowly transformed. As buildings were demolished and construction crews moved in, the sounds of daily life were replaced by the noise of machinery. The snooker table, once a symbol of resilience and community spirit, became a memory as new structures rose in its place.

Pictures by Matteo Damiani, 2010

Topics: relocation challenges in China, urbanization in China, urban development in China

Last Updated on 2024/05/15

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