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99% Invisible-66- Kowloon Walled City

2012-11-19 | 🔗

Kowloon Walled City was the densest place in the world, ever. By its peak in the 1990s, the 6.5 acre Kowloon Walled City was home to at least 33,000 people (with estimates of up to 50,000). That’s a population density … Continue reading →

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars. In eighteen. Ninety eight China granted a ninety nine year lease to Great Britain for the areas across the harbor in the British controlled Island of Hong Kong. Butt smack in the middle of that territory, known as Kowloon, was an enclave that wasn't included in the lace, a place that would at least officially still be controlled by the Chinese. It was a large fort built decades earlier to put a check on british expansion, but it evolved into something very, very different. This was the first photo that I saw that Why don't you start describing was over here taken in hand, ok, the first analogy that springs into my mind as it looks a little bit like the the board cube from STAR Trek,
It's a city block and we're not looking at a neighborhood, that's nestled in a city like we are looking at a ball. Cube that is in the middle of nowhere. Skyscrapers behind it, but the Marquis Haitian between this neighbourhood and everything else is staggering. My friend, Nick Van recalled from the programme. Love in radio show me photos. He was the first person who told me about this place. It became known as Calhoun Walled City and even though the walls eventually came down, its name was still appropriate. There was no mistaking the boundaries between it and the rest of Hong Kong, the edge became a wall of thirteen story, high rises overlooking a comparatively spar, squatters village, Buildings evolved organically, grown Tendrils of bridges, pie, some wires that encroached on other buildings and others. They turned into a single giant organism,
because it was in this legal, no man's land, not under british jurisdiction, but pretty such ignored by the chinese authorities became a magnet for the displaced and marginal thousands of me remove thereafter war which pan broke out in the thirties? and even more move thereafter, the Republic of China. What communist detracted gangsters, drug attics, sex workers, refugees and it also drew a lot of average people from all over China who needed cheap round and saw opportunity Calhoun walled city was at its height the densest place anywhere else. It had a population density of about three point: two million people per square mile. Comparison Manhattan, population density of about seventy thousand people per square mile, I mean that common while city was about forty six times as dance as I so I put that another way if Manhattan, Wanna get anywhere close to that kind of density. Every man.
Woman and child living in Texas would have to move there. I came across it very much by accident I came around one corner and This rock sure that looked really different than everything else around it. That's Gregg Gerard photographer. He lived in Hong Kong in the Eightys and Ninetys, and when I became aware of the walled city and started photographing there, yet
Density was immediately apparent. Building had been built up against each other without any space between each home owner. Each person rented would build a different kind of caged balcony that would take out a meter or two from their apartment. It was a way of opening up the apartment and getting more space and air and light. I went for a first walk into one of the allies and was immediately struck by what's overhead and up tangle of electrical wires and wet garbage that had been thrown from the upper floors. Tv antennas all over the place, credible noises from the various manufacturing, metalwork, small kind of files, green cotton mills, kitchen furnaces burning for work, three horse duck or whatever and stations underfoot as you go down. Finale lottery, squishing, stuff, wanderings, Britain's stuff between buildings that you're walking on really don't even know what all manner of censorious all really
Greg took a lot of photographs. The walls city there's one probably one of my favorites of his of a temple it's much shorter than the thirteen story. High rises around it The temple is this huge metal. Great. That's there to keep trash off the roof. Style of living in the world. He was to dispose of garbage by throwing it out your window and saw the Temple boot a big net above its roof, and energy costs beautiful shadow to our distress. It allowed for a really interesting light, filtered down through some of the bases in the garbage, almost like a tropical kind of canopy except me, refuge The new voice you heard is Aaron TAN Errand is an architect from Hong Kong and wrote his masters thesis about the World City any interviewed a lot of people who live there. Diversity was, and is, prime time is during the Sixtys and Seventys, and there was also the same time where the the
Ngos of architects, like the Aki Grams metabolize was talking about this kind of self organizing structure intelligent building. Thinking on this thing going on in the west, but not recognising the existence of the one city entries doing that So, on the other hand, the whole city in Hong Kong is growing by someone without any architect, working under so easily the coexistence of two one is very theoretical. One is something very real and they do not know the existence of each other and too much better, when, when in early eighties, when great Gerard, I nineties, when we start to look at, is the amazing coexistence of this to think during the same time,
because the world City was virtually autonomous from both China and written. There wasn't a lot in the way of infrastructure there weren't any building codes. Obviously, and there wasn't any garbage collection either, which is why people through the trash at the window, the wild city, gain a reputation as a sort of den of iniquity. There were high levels of prostitution, gambling, organised crime and, for some reason there seems to be a lot of rampant unlicensed industry, but a kind of order did emerge. The triads who are sort of like a chinese version of the mafia, filled the power vacuum with its own rule of law. They made at least some attempts at hygiene. Trunk gangs could get a drug addicts to clean up the street and residents organization popped up to settle disputes between neighbours, there's industry to new factories, fishbowl factories, textiles, the restaurant and because the sanitation wasn't right, they would kill your meal in front of you to prove that they weren't servant spoil a lot of the electricity was pirated. Someone would have a cable into the grid and run it over across the building, and then an official would shut it off. Then somebody would tat the grid again when you cable on top of the deadline and then that would get shut off and so on and so on. Eventually, there were just so many cables running over an across all the buildings. The alleyways below were almost in total darkness. You can rely on what you see, because you get lost right away, but basin smell. You could ETA, maybe they're, selling park here, and it is another cluster factory, doings, sugar and speech. So hd relying on your smell, you can actually navigate through the city better.
It was said that, if you knew your way around the city's elaborate maze of catwalks, you could from one side to the other, without ever touching the ground in the seventies and eighties, when the end of the new territories, lease was on the horizon. Britain in China began to figure out what it meant for the future of Hong Kong. In part of that negotiation included the question of what to do with the Wall City after three quarters of a century of ambiguity from both countries, they fight we agreed on a long eviction process and ninety three four years for Britain handed over control of Hong Kong to China, Cologne Wild City was demolished. Bye
The story of the walled city does not end with its destruction. I'm Brian Douglas, and I designed the first draft of the Kowloon Walled city level in how did he blackouts Call of duty is our first person shooter video cancer is normal. You get into like an army situation where maybe you're in the middle of the street or Europe on the second story, or something It's not a very vertically dynamic world, most of the time except visually. Will we ever usually get to get up to those Paul point, in other words, most games like this? The scenery is just scenery. You can interact with most visual world that exists off the ground. Usually there. Just there to make the world deal fleshed out and real we can't lose. We would actually like. Let's go up there: ecology! The black box, is just one of many games to recreate the city. It lives on in a kind of virtual memorial, except with them
way more gunfire. This is kind of a level builders dream because it provides the opportunities that we don't normally get in our first sequence, you can t sort of the liberty that it allowed us to take, because, if I needed to just make something really sort of crooked awkward. Is just all like Carte Blanche, because it really fit into the nature of the city, the doorways, weren't, necessarily the right size or the always were little thinner and they banned in the middle, Feelings were little taller where it wasn't really, but we did we're wires coming off of it. You could, just imagine what you will for it and it was probably suitable. I played the world city level, actually that's a lie. I watched a friend of it. Play, because I probably would have died for the bring with it. Clear that Brian and the other designers put of thought into each location, for instance,
a particular room might have a happy meal on the table. There are these signs of a moment in someone's life even other world is full of bad guys trying to shoot you you come across. Almost no one who is actually living there. It's easy to lose sight of the fact. This was a real living breathing neighbourhood
When you discovered that they were gonna be tearing down, I mean what do you think about that sort of new it as a real neighbourhood and not just the sort of fantastical den of iniquity, yeah white, mixed feelings? I mean the playful lately unbelievable fantastic phenomena, Missus Greggory Veronica, before dark at the same time that civic minded part of you knows that it can and should continue to fire hazard, a health hazard, one of those things that it fell between the crack and grew there into this beautiful monstrosity errand. The architect has some Lambert glance I do for me as from architectural, when viewed as very sad to see go. But when I interviewed people twenty years later, I also get half half kind of response sums in August places. Smelly is bad! Glad he's gone so that now you see my new Francis much better, but as some people have very good memory or city, the mist and richness of the space inside the Mr Community inside the Mr Convenience incited you can get things easy need the city. So you do get this to kind of opinion too, but for Erin
There was a value in having dismantled as a graduate student. He got to observe the city getting taken apart piece by piece. For him. It was an autopsy away, to see how the various pieces of the city fit together was able to build an understanding about how cities function almost with their own will now has an architect learn to allow for the sort of organic self determination into his projects ten now incorporate some lessons of Calhoun Wild City into his own work, rather than planned, everything to a t. He now look for ways to allow the organic nature of a city to organise itself We are not saying that this is a wonderful place. Went away were not trying to say that we want to duplicate, does models because its existence is so unique position in history.
You cannot be created, but in the audio him would you look at it? It has a sudden of quality in his performance as a mechanism it perform well in the very restrictive constrain they're down with lack of water without electricity now to organise themselves know how to do it. The trash like I said on one hand in my see them all trash Maroni added on to organise a people inside to remove them an event, the postman, insight and know how to deliver the letters, and so it is a kind of good alternative model for us to evaluate our desire strategy Ninety nine percent invisible, was pretty sweet by Nick magical from the shows, love and radio and snap judgments with them. From San Greenspan and me, roman Mars.
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-15.