Public Space Design Week

With his dramatic aerial images, photographer Johnny Miller brings into sharp focus the invisible lines which divide some urban communities – lines that are sometimes harder to recognise at ground level.

Text by Romullo Baratto | Translated by Zoë Montano

Mumbai, India

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Mumbai, India

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Across the world, urban clusters have – to a greater or lesser extent – social and economic differences. Reflected in space, these imbalances of income and access to education, health, sanitation, and infrastructure generate ruptures more or less visible – although drastically felt.

Although a daily reality for some, socio-spatial inequalities can often go unnoticed. photographer Johnny Miller states: 'Discrepancies in how people live are sometimes hard to see from the ground. Oftentimes, communities of extreme wealth and privilege will exist just metres from squalid conditions and shack dwellings.' Miller's photo series 'Unequal Scenes' seeks to 'portray the most "Unequal Scenes" in the world as objectively as possible.'

Vusimuzi Settlement in Tembisa, South Africa (top), Papwa Sewgolum Golf Course, Durban, South Africa (above)

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Vusimuzi Settlement in Tembisa, South Africa (top), Papwa Sewgolum Golf Course, Durban, South Africa (above)

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Miller's aerial photographs taken from a drone highlight ruptures in physical space. The photographer began his project in Johannesburg, South Africa where he photographed the scars of apartheid.


'Discrepancies in how people live are sometimes hard to see from the ground'


'The beauty of being able to fly is to see things from a new perspective – to see things as they really are. Looking straight down from a height of several hundred metres, incredible scenes of inequality emerge. Some communities have been expressly designed with separation in mind, and some have grown more or less organically.' says Miller

Mexico City, Mexico

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Mexico City, Mexico

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Since 2018, Miller has expanded his series and photographed cities in the United States, Mexico, Tanzania, Kenya, and India. Each of these places has different forms and urban morphologies specific to their respective contexts, however, the ruptures remain, conditioning – and limiting – social and spatial development.

Mumbai, India

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Mumbai, India

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Nairobi, Kenya

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Nairobi, Kenya

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Kya Sands Settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Kya Sands Settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa

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Kya Sands Settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Kya Sands Settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa

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Mumbai, India

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Mumbai, India

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Mumbai, India

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Mumbai, India

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Mexico City, Mexico

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Mexico City, Mexico

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Mexico City, Mexico

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Mexico City, Mexico

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Nairobi, Kenya

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Nairobi, Kenya

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Nairobi, Kenya

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Nairobi, Kenya

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Vusimuzi Settlement in Tembisa, South Africa

Social Inequality, As Seen From The Sky | Architecture

Vusimuzi Settlement in Tembisa, South Africa

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All photos: © Johnny Miller

See more photographs from Unequal Scenes at:

Note: This article was originally published on October 31, 2018, and updated on June 24, 2020.

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