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Architecture of Density
January 22, 2005 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Architecture of Density, by Michael Wolf • Dizzying photos of Hong Kong high-rise buildings. Think of bamboo stalks, Lego pieces, spinal columns, circuit boards...
posted by dhoyt (35 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
More: jwz, San Francisco Chronicle.
posted by Nelson at 10:11 AM on January 22, 2005


The pictures are unbelievable.
posted by anni at 10:47 AM on January 22, 2005


Amazing. Remindes me a bit of Gursky, though much more organic.

Thanks, dhoyt!
posted by googly at 10:49 AM on January 22, 2005


Stunning. It took me a few clicks to realize they were real photos. Nice find.
posted by Succa at 10:52 AM on January 22, 2005


Astonishing pictures. Check out Hong Kong-Shenzen: Like No Other from Demographia. Apparently Hong Kong's population density is over 50,000/km^2, compared to Toronto at 2,646/km^2.
posted by Chuckles at 11:02 AM on January 22, 2005


Judging from the complete lack of keystoning, I'd guess that the pictures were taken with a large-format camera. I bet the actual prints look amazing.
posted by driveler at 11:21 AM on January 22, 2005


Very good stuff.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:28 AM on January 22, 2005


Oh, and driveler--they could have been taken with a perspective control lens.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:30 AM on January 22, 2005


These are mind-bogglingly beautiful. Thank you!
posted by moonbird at 12:07 PM on January 22, 2005


#35 is simply surreal. The city looks like a gigantic crystalline structure growing upwards.
posted by ikalliom at 12:51 PM on January 22, 2005


[this is beautiful]
posted by bshort at 1:02 PM on January 22, 2005


Objectively, the shots are really beautiful. Still, you gotta wonder: is this the best way to give people a place to live? Image 21 looks like an apartment complex for the the Borg.
posted by quadog at 2:00 PM on January 22, 2005


I hope those apartments have excellent sound insulation and not too many noisy neighbors. After living in an apartment with paper-thin walls and a neighbor that liked to play boomy rap music at all hours, I don't think I could ever live in some of those places so close together with so many people around.
posted by gyc at 2:13 PM on January 22, 2005


great stuff--check out his toy story too.
posted by amberglow at 2:17 PM on January 22, 2005


Is anyone else thinking of John Calhoun's famous 1960s experiments with rat overcrowding? I know later research directly challenged the easy myth that crowding necessarily leads to violence, but when I look at these photos I still can't help but think of rat mothers eating their young.

It sure is a different way to live than the one I'm used to.
posted by mediareport at 6:32 PM on January 22, 2005


Oops, that was a pdf link. Sorry.
posted by mediareport at 6:34 PM on January 22, 2005


I was looking in his other stuff. Specifically, I was strangely bothered by this Chinese propaganda poster. How'd that sneak through?
posted by jimmythefish at 7:18 PM on January 22, 2005


is this the best way to give people a place to live? Image 21 looks like an apartment complex for the the Borg.

I bet it's a dream come true for many a Hong-Kongianite (not to mention about a billion Chinese) to be living in one of those shoe boxes.
posted by sour cream at 1:05 AM on January 23, 2005


These things look much like they do here in Korea. Trust me, though the photographs may be beautiful, the reality of these human beehives is soul-destroying horrific. IMHO, of course.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:14 AM on January 23, 2005


-ly
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:14 AM on January 23, 2005


Ah. I didnt realize until now that Nelson's link is about these photographs currently being exhibited here in San Franciso. I'll make sure to make time to go.
posted by vacapinta at 1:22 AM on January 23, 2005


Incredible shots. Thank you.
posted by xammerboy at 1:26 AM on January 23, 2005


the reality of these human beehives is soul-destroying horrific.

No no.... I gotcha....I just mentioned the bamboo & circuit board(s) to sound colorful/impressionistic/optimistic......."soul-destorying" was a prevelant feeling....i just didn't want to blurt it out.....
posted by dhoyt at 2:15 AM on January 23, 2005


it's worth mentioning i've had 7 shots of mid-priced gin.....and those places in hong kong are looking uninhabitable...
posted by dhoyt at 2:24 AM on January 23, 2005


They are beautiful pics, though, most definitely. Thanks for the link!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:18 AM on January 23, 2005


Do I need to point out that you can't judge a book by its cover? Or a building's living spaces by its exterior? If you've got millions of people and little acreage, you've got to build vertically. There's nothing inherent in that to say the insides have to be warrens, or soul-destroying, or whatever derogation you feel like pinning on the buildings.

People I know in Beijing were happy to move to buildings like these, where they have a nice view, plenty of light, modern plumbing and heat, and interiors finished to their specification. And lots of privacy, because of the solid concrete walls.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:42 AM on January 23, 2005


There's nothing inherent in that to say the insides have to be warrens, or soul-destroying, or whatever derogation you feel like pinning on the buildings.

Indeed. Most of Manhattan and a fair portion of Chicago constitute robust rebuttals of such assumptions. Lots of people actually seem to like high-density apartment living, under the right circumstances.
posted by Goedel at 6:15 AM on January 23, 2005


I dunno about high-rises. Personally, six-story brownstones are the ideal size and density for me.

Out here in the Land of Job, everyone aspires towards these things called acreages. Acres and acres of land with nothing to do on them. And the houses are all little one-story shit ranch homes with no basements. Meanwhile 1920 Victorian three-story's sell for half the price and sit empty.

Different strokes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:23 AM on January 23, 2005


This is what it's going to be like in the space stations.
posted by Eamon at 9:31 AM on January 23, 2005


This is what it's going to be like in the space stations.

No, it isn't.

posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:52 AM on January 23, 2005


Right. This is what it's going to be like in the space stations.
posted by mediareport at 12:35 PM on January 23, 2005


There's nothing inherent in that to say the insides have to be warrens, or soul-destroying, or whatever derogation you feel like pinning on the buildings.

I was referring to Korea, Kirth. I live in Korea. Korea is covered with those fucking things like ugly on Condaleeza Rice. I've spent a few years living in various versions of them. I am speaking from experience. They are soul-destroyingly horrific. They are evil.

If the ones in Hong Kong are any better, I'll eat my goddamn hat.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:58 PM on January 23, 2005


stavros, I believe you. Maybe you could explain a little more about the Korean buildings' soul-destroying properties? It's not just that you dislike high-density housing, is it?

I haven't been to HK (or Korea), but the apartments I visited in Beijing were actually very nice.

posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:16 AM on January 24, 2005


It's not just that you dislike high-density housing, is it?

Nope. Lived in apartments in Sydney, Vancouver and Whistler, and London for months to years, and in other places for shorter periods.

The only place that came close to the concrete nightmare that is Korean 'apart' living (lovely irony in the Konglish: that's what they're actually called here - 'aparts') was London, and even that had a shabby, decrepit boiled-cabbage kind of charm, by comparison.

I've written at length about this elsewhere, and it's bed time, so I guess you'll just have to trust me. Or not. That's OK too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:12 AM on January 24, 2005


OK, I'll trust you. Have to cancel my plans to move to Korea, though.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:29 AM on January 24, 2005


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