Situated beneath the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, Chongqing is perpetually shrouded in fog, its subtropical climate and monsoons creating long, oppressive summers. Chiang Kai-shek's provisional capital during the second world war, it's now "one of the fast growing cities in the world", says French photographer Tim Franco, who has spent five years photographing the concrete jungle.

"Because of the Three Gorges Dam project, a lot of the population in the surrounding areas have been moved into cities. There is an effort in local government to urbanise a large farming population who still have a very rural lifestyle."

As Chongqing expands, huge housing projects and company headquarters are popping up on what used to be fertile farmland, creating a landscape that "spoke" to the Shanghai-based photographer, who has lived in China for 10 years.

During the first few of his many visits, Franco would spend a week or two wandering around Chongqing, exploring its backstreets. He began documenting the evolution of the landscape, finding the odd farmer herding goats against a backdrop of cranes and new tower blocks, the wild green land in front of the flock soon to be consumed by concrete.

His soon-to-be released book Metamorpolis (from which these photographs are taken) is the culmination of such documenting.

"The first time I went there was in 2009," says Franco, sitting in a cafe on a tree-lined street in Shanghai. "That first time was kind of a shock for me; it was so unique and impressive, a city stuck between rivers and mountains, growing very fast, and vertically.

"I saw … how much extraordinary change a Chinese city can go through in five years; entire districts being wiped flat and entire new areas rising from nothing. Chongqing is going through the equivalent of 100 years of development in a European city within 10 years."

While the landscape is the central character in Franco's book, some of its most poignant images document, along with essays by locally based British journalist Richard Macauley, the people of Chongqing. From trendy young couples wearing local and Korean fashions to lowly paid labourers, the city's people are pictured at work and at play.

One essay focuses on Xie Wenjie - a poorly educated labourer in his 50s who carries heavy loads around the city on his bamboo pole. Despite his struggles, Xie is buying into the Chinese dream for the opportunities it affords to his daughter, a university graduate who has become a white-collar professional. It's Xie's generation, those above 40 or 50 years old, that struggle the most with adapting to urbanisation, says Franco.

"They are suddenly dragged into the middle of the city, their land is taken away and the government gives them apartments and a small allowance and they are told, 'Now you live in the city, deal with it.'"

Many revert to doing the only thing they're familiar with. Having found plots of earth in between highways, buildings and construction sites, Franco says, the newly urbanised grow vegetables to feed their families with and sell any that are left over.

"The urban part of the city is still struggling with the natural part of the city. That's the dominant theme I was attracted to," Franco explains.

Today, there is a one name inextricably linked to Chongqing: that of deposed politician Bo Xilai, a princeling son of Bo Yibo, one of the "eight elders" of the Communist Party. As Communist Party chief of the city from 2007 to 2012, Bo Xilai made his name by launching one of the biggest crackdowns on organised crime in China, taking on a culture of entrenched gangsterism. It was during that period that Franco first visited Chongqing, selling pictures of the clean-up to French newspaper Le Monde.

Then the world watched as a political scandal unfolded, with Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, being given a suspended death sentence for the 2011 murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. In 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison for corruption, bribery and abuse of power. The scandal left Chongqing briefly mired in turmoil, a moment of "identity crisis", but all was soon forgotten by a city rushing headlong into the future.

"I was always interested in documenting fast urbanisation," says Franco, "but I wanted to show something else, something more real, the China beyond the east coast, where most of the big foreign investment is."

Metamorpolis is available to buy at