In collaboration with Panos Pictures and the World Photography Organisation (WPO), Sony's Global Imaging Ambassadors (SGIA) present a nine-month social documentary initiative called FutureofCities. The project explores how cities around the world are evolving and coping with the large-scale migrations of people from suburban and rural areas into urban environments. 75% of the global population is projected to be living in cities by the middle of this century. Panos photographers have begun examining this change through topics such as urban farming, eco-housing, technological innovations, elastic environments, children at play, green spaces, economic divides and much more. Sanjit Das - 'Washing a City'
Detergent, chlorine and the thrashing of flagstones - this is the Dhobi Ghat, the world's largest open-air laundromat, situated in India's financial capital, Mumbai. Spread across 4 acres, with 731 washing pods, the laundry was originally established in 1890 by the British East Indian Company.
Since its colonial beginnings, the area has developed into an integral part of the city, servicing many of Mumbai's businesses and employing over 7,500 workers who wash over 750,000 clothes on a daily basis. The laundry has evolved over the years, with automatic washing machines now being used in combination with the traditional hand washing techniques.
In this #FutureofCities story, Sanjit Das takes a look at the vital washing service provided by the Dhobi people, observing how this seemingly antiquated tradition works for the modern world, enabling clean mats to be put on the tables of Mumbai restaurants and clean sheets to be used in the operating theatres of the city's busy hospitals.
Nyani Quarmyne - 'Hillbrow'
Johannesburg, South Africa
Hillbrow is Johannesburg's most notorious neighbourhood. During the apartheid era it was the exclusive domain of wealthy white South Africans. Then, in the 1980s and 1990s, black South Africans began to move into the area. Whites moved out and the area began a steady decline. Hillbrow soon became a byword for crime and violence. Today, it remains characterised by inbound economic migration, grinding poverty, over-crowding, squatting, hard drugs and crime.
Against this backdrop George Khosi's story unfolds: a childhood spent on the streets, surviving on petty crime, going to an adult prison at age 16 and starting to fight in jail to avoid being abused. When he got out of prison he took up boxing in earnest but his boxing career ended when he was shot during a bungled burglary, losing an eye and sustaining a leg injury. Undeterred he picked up his gloves again to teach Hillbrow's youngsters to box with donated equipment on the forecourt of a disused petrol station: The Hillbrow Boxing Club.
Justin Jin - 'Another Great Leap Forward'
Beijing & Hebei province, China
What happens to humanity and the earth when millions of rural subsistence farmers are incentivised to sell their land, ditch their agrarian way of life and learn to live as middle class consumers in one of China's newly constructed urban provinces?
In this #FutureofCities story, photographer Justin Jin takes a look at China's current mega-scheme in social engineering; a mammoth plan to encourage future economic growth by transforming the country's rural dwellers into urban, domestic consumers. These images were shot in Hebei province, just outside Beijing, as part of a larger body of work in which Justin travelled through Chinese cities, meeting people who have been caught up in China's latest social upheaval.