KOWLOON WALLED CITY

Happy New Year! We hope everyone has had an excellent Christmas break.

Something that recently re-caught my interest, and a world away from beaches and barbeques, is the Kowloon Walled City (KWC).

For those that haven’t encountered it, KWC was, in a nutshell, a largely self-organizing and ungoverned settlement in Hong Kong. At its peak the KWC accommodated 50,000 people and all manner of commerce and activity – much of it illegal outside its limits – in what was essentially a large city block. The lawless, high-rise squat was a jurisdictional accident of colonial Hong Kong.

KWC has been the source of much architectural and artistic fascination which has produced, amongst other things, this great infographic, and this particularly wonderful section, drawn by a visiting Japanese team shortly before KWC’s demolition.

In 1993 the society-unto-itself was demolished and an explicitly traditional-Chinese park was built in its place; an idealised nature replaced a tumultuous culture. The park’s/site’s re-design could have made for a fascinating competition. Regardless, KWC remains a remarkable case study in super-density, urban agglomeration and the outcomes of unregulated settlement.

This is an excellent photo-series and a brief history with a very good range of images.