Echoes of Kowloon Walled City Amid Modern Urban Redevelopment

Walled City by Andy Yeung.(Images: Andy Yeung. Kowloon Walled City)

Until its demolition in 1994, the slum settlement known as Kowloon Walled City was arguably Hong Kong‘s most notorious neighbourhood. So densely-populated was the Walled City that, by the late ’80s, some 33,000 people occupied less than 6.5 acres of virtual lawlessness, where organised crime ran the show, and drugs, gambling and prostitution were commonplace.

But by 1987, eviction orders were paving the way for the demolition of the troubled settlement. By 1994, the notorious slum had almost completely disappeared, its squalid footprint transformed into the Kowloon Walled City Park. Still, echoes of the old settlement remain in the remnants of its South Gate, surrounded by the 21st century towers of modern Kowloon City.

It’s in this urban redevelopment that photographer Andy Yeung found inspiration – and a certain irony – for his visually stunning photo series titled, appropriately, Walled City. Using a drone to soar hundreds of feet above the changed cityscape, Andy’s striking images reveal a new kind of urban density that’s taken hold in the last two decades.

“The Kowloon Walled City was once the densest place on Earth,” Andy writes on his website. “Hundreds of houses stacked on top of each other enclosed in the centre of the structure. Many didn’t have access to air or open space. This notorious city was finally demolished in 1990s.”

“However, if you look hard enough, you will notice that the city is not dead,” he added. “Part of it still exists in many of current high density housing apartments where the only view out the window is neighbour’s window. I hope this series can get people to think about claustrophobic living in Hong Kong from a new perspective.”

You can check out more of Andy Yeung’s work on Facebook, Instagram and 500px.

Hong Kong's notorious Kowloon Walled City slum in 1989, before clearance and demolition.

The remnants of Kowloon Walled City's South Gate.(Images: Ian Lambot; Cara Chow. Kowloon Walled City in 1989 & South Gate ruins)

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