Here in the USA, when a building is under construction, we are used to the sight of scaffolding partially encaging the structure. In Hong Kong, the tradition is to completely wrap even the most immense buildings in sheets of fabric. Photographer Peter Steinhauer documents these colorful monoliths in stunning detail.

The purpose of the giant drop-cloths is simply to prevent dust and debris from falling away from the building during construction. If you happen to live inside one of them during this type of renovation, you better get used to having a limited—very limited—view out of the window for a while, because the cloths are used even on inhabited buildings.

Upon visiting Hong Kong in the nineties, Steinhauer became enamored enough with phenomenon that he spent nearly a decade photographing them in a series dubbed Cocoons. The images have an other-wordly feel to them, from the wide shots at night, to the enveloping views at close quarters. But the surreal aspect is firmly grounded in the reality of rapid development in China.

See more of Peter Steinhauer's work on his Facebook page and website.