Life inside the densest place on earth: Remembering Kowloon Walled City
Kowloon Walled City was once considered the densest settlement on earth, 33,000 people lived within the area of one city block, with little government regulation, Photographer Greg Girard spent years documenting the Walled City before its demolition.
Picture a huge empire of small houses stacked along with one another. Imagine them linked by stairs snaking under hanging cables; through passages so dark-even police were rumored to hesitate of them.
Now picture 33,000 people living there, inside the area of 1 city block. Which was Kowloon Walled City, once considered the densest settlement on the planet.
“A huge waste of structures”
Photographer Greg Girard remembers being surprised when he first saw it, and spent years with collaborator Ian Lambot recording this excellent Hong Kong trend, before it was destroyed thirty years ago.
33,000 people lived within the Walled City.
“it had been an enormous waste of buildings,” recalls Girard. “It did not seem like other things.”
In the end, the Walled City was a type of historical accident. A former Qing dynasty castle, it never completely got underneath the legislation of the British colonial government in Hong Kong. Consequently, its citizens were liberated to develop their houses because they wanted, ignoring safety rules.
“frequently homes were constructed by building onto the following building, pounding out walls to make use of their stairs,” said Girard. “A large amount of them did not have use of air or open-space, simply because they were surrounded within the middle of the composition.”
Deep inside the buildings night, a number of smaller businesses flourished.
“The areas that stuck out were the meat producers,” says Girard. “There were pig carcasses laying splayed on the ground; they’d burn the hair off using a blowtorch, it had been all fairly open and obviously there were no health regulations governing the area.”
But regardless of the Town’s outrageous look, the shooter unearthed that the people inside existed the same as people elsewhere.
“Everyone was doing very ordinary things,” he says. “It’s that each one of these normal things was occurring within an amazing position.”
An innovative group
The difficulty of the Walled City also fascinated local builder Aaron Tan, currently the manager of Hong Kong Company Study Architecture Design. A graduate student then, he wrote his thesis about the Walled City because it had been torn down.
Each one of these normal things was occurring within an amazing location.
Greg Girard, shooter
“I was fascinated — it was such as for instance a bit of equipment that worked perfectly. The demolition was like taking the equipment apart — the very first time you can see what was inside.
“it had been really a humbling process for me personally like a developer — when we met this Walled Town, we started initially to notice that people could be much more intelligent than us, the developers — that they could think about methods to solve problems that are away from traditional academic world.”
Bronze was particularly fascinated by Kowloon Walled City’s water system. Additional wells were made by citizens and created a large number of pipes that twisted through the building, to aid its dense population. But because moving water for the Town’s top tanks needed lots of power, the folks would take turns to ensure that water might be provided effectively saving energy.
“It revealed the city inside — that regardless of the problems, they’d find some smart method to fix it,” says Tan.
Regardless Of The effectiveness of the Walled City, by 1994 it was completely torn down by the city authorities, which was wanting to change the chaotic and unregulated group having a public park.
“Seeing the Walled City fall under disuse was kind of melancholic,” says Girard. “Every town knows too late to begin caring about their architectural history — it is a mistake that gets repeated everywhere. From The time you start caring about it, itis too late to truly save it.”
Today, people to the website of the old Walled City will discover a placid backyard with swaying trees and dark wetlands. Within The Park there’s a little memorial honoring Kowloon Walled City. Nevertheless when you turn to the sky and imagine the colossus of Hong Kong life that once stood, it is easy to understand that something important has been dropped.
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The Town isn’t dead
The Town’s heritage lives on, right now. A walled community called the Narrows in the 2005 movie “Batman Begins” was centered on Kowloon Walled City. The Town is a degree within the gaming “Call of Duty: Black-Ops.”
“Significantly more” than a slum “Significantly more” than a slum
Due to the continuing attention, Greg Girard is dealing with his other Kowloon Walled City photographer Ian Lambot to complete a brand new book of the spectacular photographs, titled “City of Darkness: Revisited.”
“You do not wish to romanticize a slum, you know. Since it was that. However it was a lot more than that. The Walled City was a type of new touchstone when it comes to exactly what a city could be — unexpected, self generated, unregulated. It was lively and important and all of it was getting used.”
Color feels the nature of the Walled City continues to beat through the heart of Hong Kong itself.
“Look down upon this unique assortment of properties coming-together and Visit The Maximum — it is almost such as for instance an inflated version of the Walled City, right? Each building relates to the following building. New applications develop due to the contacts.”
This natural disorder, he says, has been an inspiration for their own work.
“Many architects and urban planners like handle,” he says. “But people prefer to wander off within the area. In my own design process, I usually actively attempt to allow incidents, to allow others to engage, to surprise me.”