Projects like Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City have sparked fascination among architects and designers, who overlook the terrible living conditions these slums fostered.
“Whenever I see sensational exposes on the supposedly sublime spatial intensity of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City (demolished in 1994), they strike me as nothing more than colonial fantasies that have little to do with the reality of living in the midst of one of the world’s cruelest slums. You see the walled city pop up constantly like it’s still a valid or even interesting subject. This informal settlement has been diagramed, photographed, and written about for decades from an aesthetic point of view, rendering its victimized and oppressed inhabitants all but invisible. Not to say that this wasn’t home to a lot of people and that no “fond memories” were formed there, but still, like all slums, it was a tough place to live, fraught with contradictions in the haze of hope for a better life.(…)” http://www.metropolismag.com/Point-of-View/February-2014/Why-Architects-Shouldnt-Fetishize-Slums/
“The premise of this opinion is ridiculously flawed. Musicians, cartoonists, composers, artists, craftspeople, writers, film makers, chefs, scientists, political and social theorists all draw from places like those referenced here in their own pursuits, but for some reason architects should not be allowed to do so. Why not? Why should architects be singled out as the lone creative discipline that must be directed to look away from slums, favelas, and vernacular, unconscious cities?
Kowloon existed. The fact that Kowloon was the densest place ever settled is reason alone to warrant study, speculation, and yes, even inspiration. The favelas continue to exist. Should architects act as if they do not?(…)”
Courtesy Greg Girard and Ian Lambot via Flickr
This article originally appeared on Archdaily under the title The Indicator: The Slum Exotic and the Persistence of Hong Kong’s Walled City.