Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rufina Wu and Stefan Canham on Hong Kong's Informal Rooftop Communities

This is an amazing documentation on urban living in HongKong. Here are some pieces we found online:

"Self-built settlements on the roofs of high-rise buildings have been an integral part of Hong Kong´s history for over half a century. Rooftop structures range from basic shelters for the disadvantaged to intricate multi-storey constructions equipped with the amenities of modern life. Rufi na Wu (Canada) and Stefan Canham (Germany) utilize the tools of an architect and the tools of a photographer to document rooftop communities on five buildings located in older districts in the Kowloon Peninsula, slated for redevelopment by the Urban Renewal Authority of Hong Kong. Text records of the residents´stories, measured drawings of each distinct rooftop structure, and high-resolution images of the domestic interiors of more than twenty households off er an unprecedented insight into the everyday life on Hong Kong´s rooftops. An outstanding documentation, that won the 3rd prize at BAUHAUS AWARD 2008 "

" “You have to be careful. It is very dangerous up there. Those places are filled with thieves and drug addicts. It is easy for them to hide from the police on a rooftop – if you don’t know the place, you’d get lost for sure…”
No publicly accessible maps or guidebooks offer the specific locations of Hong Kong’s rooftop communities. The best way to find them is to walk through the city with your head tilted upward. We discovered a broad range of informal rooftop structures after climbing countless flights of stairs—more often than not, there are no elevators. In more affluent areas, the improvised structures are now used as storage sheds, or as living space extensions from the floor below. But it is the roofs of tenement buildings built in the 1950s and 1960s that are often transformed into affordable living space catering to low-income groups, particularly immigrants. Some of these intricate two- and three-story-high structures are equipped with amenities like high-speed Internet; others provide little more than basic shelter."

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